November 29, 2001

Legislative Activity

Date: November 29, 2001

To: AAF Members
Boston Idea Group

From: Clark Rector, Jr., Vice President-State Government Affairs

Re: Massachusetts Legislation Concerning Pharmaceutical Advertising

Legislation (Senate Bill 1979) has been introduced in the Massachusetts Senate to "require pharmaceutical companies to provide [the state] data through the disclosure of their expenditures for mass media direct-to-consumer advertising, correspondence to consumers and direct and indirect advertising . . . ."

AAF opposes this legislation as an unwarranted government intrusion into the legal and appropriate activities of private businesses. Senate Bill 1979 would require the disclosure of proprietary information to the public and competitors with no discernible public benefit.

Proponents of the bill claim that direct-to-consumer advertising increases the costs of both pharmaceuticals and insurance premiums. They also allege that consumers demand and receive unnecessary prescriptions. Each of these claims is incorrect.

Advertising for prescription drugs can be an important source of information for consumers, about medical problems and potential treatment options of which they would otherwise be unaware. This is particularly true when new products become available; advertising can play a considerable role in informing both patients and doctors. Consumers can then discuss with their doctor whether the drug in question is appropriate for them.

There is no available evidence that doctors are writing unnecessary prescriptions. In fact, according to 2000 Prevention Magazinesurvey 53 percent of the respondents who called a physician about an advertised drug said their doctor had mentioned a non-drug therapy.

Early warnings to consumers of medical conditions and treatment options by prescription drug advertising can have a positive impact on total healthcare costs by eliminating or reducing many hospital stays.

There is a direct price benefit for consumers as well. An FTC study on the price of prescription eyeglasses found that prices actually declined in markets with advertising as opposed to those without, with no decrease in quality.

The legislation has been referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care. We urge you to contact members of the Senate to urge opposition to this harmful legislation.

Massachusetts General Court
State House
Boston, MA 02133
(617) 722-1276

Joint Committee on Health Care
Senator Richard T. Moore (D) - Chair
Representative Harriett L. Stanley (D) - Chair
Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D) - Vice-Chair
Representative Peter J. Koutoujian (D) - Vice-Chair
Senator Harriette L. Chandler (D)
Senator Susan C. Fargo (D)
Senator Therese Murray (D)
Representative Christine E. Canavan (D)
Representative John A. Hart, Jr. (D)
Representative Rachel Kaprielian (D)
Representative William M. Straus (D)
Representative Kathleen M. Teahan (D)
Representative James E. Vallee (D)
Representative Martin Walsh (D)
Senator Bruce E. Tarr (R)
Representative Carol G. Cleven (R)
Senator Shirley Gomes (R)