American Medical Association Tries to Convince Attorneys to Modify Prescription Drug Claims Ads

Defective Drugs
Attorney Advertising

By Avon Alexander, Staff Writer

In a recent meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA), the participants adopted a policy which would have attorneys’ commercials use qualifying warnings when advertising for patients in a way that may cause the patients to stop using their medications.

AMA Bid to Modify Attorney Advertising

The AMA’s position is evidence of its concern over the multitude of plaintiffs’ attorneys who advertise on television, seeking new clients by warning against the complications presented by certain medications. In a statement, the AMA said that the potential complications which may be associated with taking the medications are currently presented in “an alarming way”, and that the public often first learns about such complications from the attorney commercials.

As opposed to the current ad formats, the AMA would like to see plaintiffs’ attorneys include particular warnings, such as advising the viewer that he or she should not discontinue use of prescribed medications without first consulting a doctor. Physicians with the AMA recognize that some medications can cause potentially dangerous side effects, but also contend that for some people discontinuing to use the medications may be even more dangerous.

Attorneys Counter AMA Claims

Some attorneys believe that the American Medical Association is more interested in protecting its bottom line and its members’ standing in society than ensuring that patients have all the information they need about potentially hazardous medications. Citing the fact that doctors are subject to intense lobbying by pharmaceutical companies, all vying to convince physicians to prescribe their medications, and the fact that doctors typically only spend a few minutes with patients, some representatives for plaintiffs’ attorneys believe that in today’s environment doctors should not be patients’ sole source of information.

Advertising is Booming

Advertising can play a significant role in information dissemination as it relates both promoting drugs and warning the public about significant complications which can result from taking defective drugs. It is well known that the big pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year marketing their products. Plaintiffs’ lawyer advocates believe that their spending to make the public aware of some of the drugs’ negative side effects amounts to a public service. Though spending on legal service advertising is not yet close in dollar amount to that promoting pharmaceuticals, the $900 million lawyers spent on advertising last year is certainly significant in its own right. 

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