@Pharmalot About the Author Reprints Benjamin Stone/Flickr PharmalotAmerican Medical Association wants to ban drug ads to consumers In fact, the AMA plans to convene a task force and launch an advocacy campaign to promote greater affordability for medicines and greater transparency in prescription drug prices. The AMA worries that patients are foregoing needed treatment due to rising costs and limitations on insurance coverage. Tags advertisingAmerican Medical Associationprescription drugs By Ed Silverman Nov. 17, 2015 Reprints Why doctors’ call to ban drug advertising is a dead end In a dramatic step, the American Medical Association is calling for a ban on advertising prescription drugs and medical devices directly to consumers. The move, however, is largely symbolic, because any ban would have to be authorized by Congress.The new AMA policy comes after years of complaints by physicians. Ever since the Food and Drug Administration revised guidelines in 1997 to permit drug firms and medical device manufacturers to use broadcasting advertising, doctors argued some ads too often encourage patients to seek medicines unnecessarily. They also resent the pressure the ads place on them to write prescriptions out of concern patients will switch physicians.Another rationale for the ban, however, is the rising cost of drugs. Doctors have long argued that many of the ads aimed directly at consumers promote more expensive medicines. This, in turn, raises overall health care costs.advertisement Related: Ed Silverman Pharmalot Columnist, Senior Writer Ed covers the pharmaceutical industry. [email protected] The new policy “reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices,” said AMA Board Chair-elect Dr. Patrice Harris, in a statement. “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”advertisement The AMA noted that prices on generic and brand-name drugs rose 4.7 percent this year, according to the Altarum Institute Center for Sustainable Health Spending. And the organization also pointed out that advertising dollars spent by drug makers increased by 30 percent in the last two years to $4.5 billion. The organization cited data from Kantar Media, a market research firm.By casting the issue in the context of rising drug prices, the AMA is clearly trying to create as much support as possible for a ban. The cost of pharmaceuticals, after all, is a hot-button issue that has galvanized much of the American public in recent months. The AMA proposal amounts to yet another indication that drug pricing will remain a policy issue for the near-term.Not surprisingly, industry reaction was scathing.One trade group that represents advertisers and marketers argues that a ban would violate free speech rights. “It flies in the face of the First Amendment,” John Kamp, who heads the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, told us. Companies, he explained, have a right to tell “the truth” about their products.He also maintained that patients and caregivers “want and deserve up-to-date information on the availability of drugs. The days of Dr. Kildare being the exclusive source of information about health and medicine have come and gone.”A spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the trade group for drug makers, sent us this: “Providing scientifically accurate information to patients so that they are better informed about their health care and treatment options is the goal of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising about prescription medicines.“Beyond increasing patient awareness of disease and available treatments, DTC advertising has been found to increase awareness of the benefits and risks of new medicines and encourage appropriate use of medicines. In addition, DTC advertising encourages patients to visit their doctors’ offices for important doctor-patient conversations about health that might otherwise not take place.”
A solicitor who became entangled in a funding arrangement that ‘bore the hallmarks of a dubious investment scheme’ has been fined £25,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).According to the statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome, Mark Andrew Fallon, admitted in 1991, was director of a recognised body called Mr Finch Limited, established in 2016, at all material times. He previously held senior positions at Irwin Mitchell and Lance Mason. In 2016 Mr Finch received over £1m from an ‘alternative investment fund management company’ called Sable International Finance Limited. No organisation is currently listed under that name on Companies House. Fallon admitted to the Solicitors Regulation Authority that Sable showed signs of being ‘a dubious scheme’. For example, it displayed an ‘absence of commercial rationale’ as the rates being offered meant it could not make any profit.The scheme also stressed the need for secrecy and sent poorly drafted documentation, according to the statement. It added: ‘The indications of a dubious scheme were even more obvious and unavoidable when [Fallon] became aware of the fact that bank accounts relating to the Sable scheme had been frozen.’Fallon admitted to all allegations in full, including allowing the firm to become involved in a funding arrangement bearing the hallmarks of a dubious investment scheme.He also admitted to acting recklessly, failing to adequately monitor the firm’s funding arrangements and submitting an application to the SRA containing misleading information.Finally, he admitted to allowing funds to be transferred from the firm’s office account to third parties to re-pay debts to a lender in the knowledge that accounts associated with the lender had been frozen.According to the judgment, the tribunal found the respondent’s ‘very serious’ misconduct was ‘aggravated by his recklessness’. It noted, in mitigation, that the respondent’s misconduct did not put client money at risk. It also noted Fallon’s full co-operation with the SRA, his demonstrable insight and early admissions.Fallon was ordered to pay a fine of £25,000 and costs of £15,000. He was also banned from being sole signatory on any client or office account for three years.