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Controversies
January 27, 1999

Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of Prescription DrugsCreating Consumer Demand

JAMA. 1999;281(4):382-384. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-4-jcv80002

In the early 1980s, the pharmaceutical industry began marketing prescription drugs directly to patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposed a moratorium on this marketing strategy in 1983, then lifted it in 1985.1 Since then, the industry has devoted increasing resources to this strategy. In a 1988 editorial on direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing, Eric P. Cohen, MD, wrote, "Issues of regulation of advertising, cost, competition, public health, and individual well being need to be carefully examined."2 Examination of these issues in rigorous, independent studies has not occurred. Despite the lack of studies, the FDA has relaxed regulations governing DTC marketing of prescription drugs.3

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