HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

American Medical Association Annual Meeting

There appears to be much discussion at the AMA annual meeting this week in Chicago concerning prescription drugs.  Yesterday, the AMA approved a measure supporting  legislative initiatives in a number of states that require pharmacies to fill legally valid prescriptions.  The AMA is having some greater difficulty agreeing on prescription drug advertising.  According to the Chicago Tribune,

The American Medical Association on Tuesday is expected to authorize a comprehensive study examining whether advertising drugs directly to consumers leads to additional costs, unneeded prescriptions or other negative side effects.

The AMA's 543-member policymaking body had been expected to put forth a policy on drug advertising, but lively testimony Sunday at this week's AMA meeting in Chicago prompted a committee of the AMA to defer a vote and refer the issue for more study.

AMA officials said the referral to the board keeps the issue alive until a future meeting but allows for more scientific input and research about legal remedies that could be used to rein in drug ads.

The AMA's discussion of drug ads has been so heated that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich entered the fray Monday, sending a letter to the AMA urging it to support a ban amid rising drug costs and increased concerns over drug safety that have arisen from large pharmaceutical ad campaigns.

AMA support of drug ad regulation would fuel action by Congress or the Food and Drug Administration to curtail drug ads, many observers believe.

Several delegations within the AMA want the national doctors group to take a concrete stand that pushes for more regulation, but there has been enough opposition expressed to prompt at least a deferral.

Some doctors said the industry is already curtailing ads, while other doctors, such as psychiatrists, say ads for antidepressants have helped get patients into their offices who would not otherwise come in for treatment.

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