Prescription drug ads are banned in all industrialized nations except New Zealand and the USA. Yet most off those other nations have effective medical care programs while managing to keep costs from soaring. In 1997, the FDA opened the floodgates to prescription drug advertising in the USA. This was based on an earlier Supreme Court decision that said restricting such advertising was illegal.
Last summer, some U.S. Congress members were mounting campaigns to refute the Supreme Court’s decision by restricting prescription drug advertising. In August of 2009, the New York Times selected a panel of eight highly qualified individuals for its “Editorial Room for Debate” section and posed the following two questions:
How much harm do prescription drug ads do to consumers? Are these ads a valuable way to educate people?
All but one panelist agreed that commercials and ads for prescription drugs were harmful and should be banned or at least restricted for a variety of reasons. The lone dissenter in the panel claimed that TV ads for prescription drugs educate and empower.
Disputing that premise, another panel member pointed out that people in countries banning prescription drug ads are better educated about health matters than Americans. Another panel member cited the