• 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 (DTC) 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.
    • Patients must be provided with clear and accurate cost information on products, including compounded medications.
    • 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.

    Appropriate criteria for other DTC advertising can be found in the Direct to Consumer Advertising Genetic Testing and Direct to Consumer Advertising of Infant Formula AAFP policies.   (1991) (July 2021 BOD)