Direct-to-Consumer Drug Ad Ban: Senator Fails Again

27 June 2003

Senator John Edwards (Democrat, North Carolina), perhaps conscious that he is a presidential contender, is not one to give up easily.

For the second time this week he introduced a proposal to the US Senate to curb the rise and rise of direct-to-consumer drug advertising by the massed battalions of the pharma industry. And for the second time this week he was defeated.

The latest attempt came in the form of an amendment to a Medicare prescription drug benefit bill. Edwards’ proposed that DTC drug ads be required to include information on how each drug compared with others on the market in effectiveness and also that ads give equal weight to the drugs’ benefits and side effects.

From the floor of the senate, Edwards complained that DTC drug ads had deviated from their intended purpose of providing information. One of his aides later said that the senator sought “honesty and balance” in drug advertising.

But his opponents successfully argued that the amendment could effectively end broadcast DTC drug ads – worth a collective $2.3 billion (€2.02bn; £1.39bn) in annual ad revenues.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff