Most Americans Want Prescription Drug Ads Banned from TV

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Viagra advertisement from 2010

A new poll from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that 57% of Americans would like prescription drug advertisements to be banned from television, while 34% oppose such a ban.

Among those surveyed, 7% stated that they had considered taking a prescription drug they viewed on television over the past 12 months, while 93% said that they had not. Of the respondents who considered taking a drug they saw advertised on television, 76% believed the advertisements clearly stated the risks and side effects associated with the drug.

In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released regulations for prescription drug advertisements on television in a report titled “Guidance for Industry: Consumer-Directed Broadcast Advertisements.” The FDA rules required that all broadcast ads include brief information about the major risks associated with any drug being advertised.

On Nov. 17, 2015, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a public call to ban direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs. AMA Board Chair Patrice A. Harris said the AMA’s decision “reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices.” According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), “government agencies and independent experts report no direct relationship between drug marketing and drug prices.”

The Congressional Budget Office reported in 2011 that the average number of prescriptions for new drugs with DTC advertising was nine times greater than prescriptions for new drugs without DTC ads.

The United States and New Zealand are currently the only two countries where DTC advertising of prescription drugs is legal.


American Medical Association, “AMA Calls for Ban on Direct to Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices,”, Nov. 17, 2015

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Americans’ Attitudes About Changing Current Prescription Drug & Medical Device Regulation,”, May 2016

Dan Mangan, “Americans Oppose Fast Approvals, Want Drug Ads off TV: Survey,”, May 11, 2016

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, “The Facts About Pharmaceutical Marketing & Promotion,” (accessed May 12, 2016)