Direct-to-the-consumer drug advertising

October 6th, 2006 at 4:44 am by David Farrar

The Government is looking to ban Direct-to-the-consumer drug advertising.

In a society which values free speech, any ban on advertising has to meet a high threshold to be justified. the burden of proof has to be on the Government to justify that the level of harm from not banning such advertising is so great as to warrant a ban. This is a vital point – the onus is not on drug companies to prove they should be allowed to advertise, the onus must be on the Government to justify a ban.

Unlike No Right Turn, I don’t see any evidence to support a total ban. There are standards of advertising which require adverts to be truthful. There are health standards any drugs advertised must meet. One could even develop a more rigorous advertising code for drug advertising.

Banning advertising is an assault on free speech. Now free speech is not without limit – the classic example being no right to shout Fire in a crowded theatre. But a ban on advertising should be the last resort.

The trend in recent years has been empowering health consumers so they have more information on which to make decisions – not just relying on health practitioners. Again restricting information should be done very very reluctantly.

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