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Can FDA ban direct-to-consumer drug advertising?

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act permits the advertising of prescription drugs as long as the advertisements are accurate and not misleading. Prohibiting direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising would require an act of Congress to change the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and would also raise complex freedom of speech issues.

FDA has a section called the Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC), which oversees prescription drug advertising activities. DDMAC works to ensure that companies that sell prescription drugs also provide information that is truthful, balanced, and accurate by:

  • looking for and taking action against advertisements that violate the law
  • educating industry and others about the specifics of the law
  • encouraging better communication of promotional information that is provided to health care professionals and consumers
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