In the context of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, physicians individually should:
- Remain objective about advertised tests, drugs, treatments, and devices, avoiding bias for or against advertised products.
- Engage in dialogue with patients who request tests, drugs, treatments, or devices they have seen advertised to:
- assess and enhance the patient’s understanding of the test, drug or device;
- educate patients about why an advertised test, drug, or device may not be suitable for them, including providing cost-effectiveness information about different options.
- Resist commercially induced pressure to prescribe tests, drugs, or devices that may not be indicated.
- Obtain informed consent before prescribing an advertised test, drug, or device, in keeping with professional standards.
- Deny requests for an inappropriate test, drug, or device.
- Consider reporting to the sponsoring manufacturer or appropriate authorities direct-to-consumer advertising that:
- promotes false expectations;
- does not enhance consumer education;
- conveys unclear, inaccurate, or misleading health education messages;
- fails to refer patients to their physicians for additional information;
- does not identify the target population at risk;
- encourages consumer self-diagnosis and treatment.
Collectively, physicians should:
- Encourage and engage in studies that examine the impact of direct-to-consumer advertising on patient health and medical care.
- Whenever possible, assist authorities to enforce existing law by reporting advertisements that do not:
- provide a fair and balanced discussion of the use of the drug product for the disease, disorder, or condition;
- clearly explain warnings, precautions, and potential adverse reactions associated with the drug product;
- present summary information in language that can be understood by the consumer
- comply with applicable regulations;
- provide collateral materials to educate both physicians and consumers.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: II, IIIRead the Principles