Drug Companies Promoting Drugs for Uses not Approved by US Government

According to an article from the September 20, 2000 New York Times, retail drug spending has seen a major increase due to drug companies advertising directly to the public. This was according to a new study published by the National Institute for Health Care Management, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that conducts research on health care issues. The study stated that, "25 of the most heavily advertised drugs accounted for more than 40 percent of the increase in retail drug spending last year."

The study disclosed that spending on consumer advertising went from $1.3 billion in 1998, to $1.8 billion in 1999. This resulted in an increase in consumer spending for retail drugs from $93.4 billion in 1998 to $111.1 billion in 1999. Consumer advertising of drug products has been made possible since the Food and Drug Administration relaxed the rules on direct marketing of prescription drugs to consumers in 1997.

The NY Times article went on to say, "The study did not discuss the accuracy of drug advertising. But in the last three years, the government has repeatedly reprimanded drug companies after finding false or misleading claims in TV commercials and magazine advertisements." The article concluded with the following; "The F.D.A. has admonished companies about commercials advertising drugs for allergies, asthma, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hair loss and sexually transmitted diseases, among others. In many cases, the government said, the advertisements violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because they overstated the benefits of a particular drug, minimized the risks or falsely suggested that one drug was superior to another. The F.D.A. also found that many companies had been promoting their drugs for uses not approved by the government."