Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Pharmaceuticals, Nonprescription Medications, Health Care Devices, and Health-Related Products and Services

The AAFP supports efforts by manufacturers of prescription pharmaceuticals, nonprescription medications, health care devices and health-related products and services to provide general health information to the public. At the same time, the AAFP urges that any direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs by pharmaceutical companies be based on disease state only, without mention of a specific drug by name. The AAFP believes direct-to-consumer advertising of these products and services is acceptable when the following conditions are met:

  • Advertisements must conform to applicable laws, including FDA and/or FTC guidelines.
  • Advertisements must be labeled as such.
  • Information should be accurate, balanced, objective, and complete, not false or misleading, and should not promote unhealthy or unsafe practices.
  • If specific properties or indications are mentioned, then negative or adverse reactions and effects should likewise be mentioned, in a manner that is equitable in respect to time, font size, speed of information, etc., to ensure information is accessible and understood by the consumer.
  • Advertisements should not promote the use of products that have addictive or abuse potential.
  • If advertisements direct the consumer to a physician, referral should be to the consumer's family or personal physician. The AAFP considers it inappropriate and unethical for an advertiser to act as a referring agent, due to the consumer's lack of awareness of any potential conflict of interest associated with such a referral.

(1991) (2011 COD)