The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling for a temporary moratorium on the advertising of newly approved drugs and guidelines for pharmaceutical companies to follow when preparing direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.

"A temporary moratorium on DTC advertising of prescribed drugs and medical devices will benefit both the patient and physician," said AMA President-elect Ronald M. Davis, M.D. "Physicians will have the opportunity to become better educated on the pros and cons of prescription drug uses before prescribing them, and will be better able to determine when they are best suited for their patients' medical needs."

In addition to the moratorium on newly approved drugs (the time interval for this moratorium will be determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)), the AMA adopted additional guidelines for DTC ads, they:

• should provide objective information about drug benefits that reflect the true efficacy of the drug, as determined by clinical trials;

• should show fair balance between the benefits and risks of the advertised drugs by providing comparable time or space and cognitive accessibility, and by presenting warnings, precautions and potential adverse reactions in a clear and understandable way without distraction of content;

• should clearly indicate that the ad is for a prescription drug and refer patients to their physician for more information and appropriate treatment; and

• should be targeted for age-appropriate audiences; and

• should receive pre-approval from the FDA

The AMA also calls for additional research into the effects of DTC advertising on the patient-physician relationship, overall health outcomes and health care costs.

"The AMA will work with the pharmaceutical industry for universal acceptance of the guidelines so that physicians can help patients obtain appropriate medications," said Dr. Davis.