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New drugs? Might be a while before you see ads

/ Source: The Associated Press

The American Medical Association said Wednesday it will press for a waiting period before pharmaceutical companies can advertise new prescription drugs and implantable devices to give doctors more time to study the products.

The AMA's president-elect, Dr. Ronald Davis of Detroit, said the measure would let physicians review the pros and cons of certain drugs before prescribing them.

The new stance from the nation's largest doctors group is in line with guidelines the pharmaceutical industry adopted last year when it pledged to educate doctors before beginning consumer ad campaigns. Those guidelines are voluntary, however.

After wrestling for years with a proposed ban on direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads, delegates at the AMA's annual meeting adopted a compromise that would let manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration work out a waiting period for each product before allowing ads.

"The length of time this requires will vary from medicine to medicine, and companies will likely meet this goal in different ways," said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

In approving the measure, the AMA added the policy to its lobbying agenda.

The proposal applies to new prescription drugs and medical devices such as knee implants and artificial discs.

Some surgeons at the meeting said patients have begun demanding marketed devices — sometimes even when they do not need surgery.

At previous AMA meetings, the group has considered an outright ban on prescription drug ads, arguing that the ads induce patients to demand inappropriate medicines from their doctors. Those efforts have repeatedly met resistance from critics who contend a ban would violate free-speech rights.