Say “ no” to drug ads

Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription medicines increases the risk of over-prescribing and negative health impacts.

New Zealand and the US are the only countries in the developed world that allow DTCA.

Ads sell the promise of a quick fix but we don’t think they provide all the facts that are needed to make an informed choice. 

We want these ads to be banned, because they:

  • Don’t give people all the information they need to make an informed decision
  • Increase the risk of over prescribing and health risks
  • Create extra cost to patients and the health system
  • Have the potential to jeopardise the doctor-patient relationship
  • Aren’t being regulated effectively within the industry
  • Are banned in most countries – New Zealand and the United States are the only developed countries that still allow it. 

A study previously published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health found people with unhealthier lifestyles were more likely to respond to medicine ads. This raises concerns about drugs being used to treat symptoms that could be improved through lifestyle changes. 

New Zealanders want DTCA gone too. 

Drug companies claim DTCA helps inform people but most New Zealanders do not share this view. 

Our research found almost half of New Zealanders wanted the ads to go, in favour of a health information service that provides independent information about treatment options. 

It's time for change. 

We have been calling for DTCA to be banned for years. 

We shared our views with the Ministry of Health during its consultation on the Therapeutic Products Bill. The bill was subsequently amended to include a provision allowing for regulations to be made to prohibit DTCA.  

Leading health experts, including The Council of Medical Colleges of New Zealand, the New Zealand Medical Association, The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and the New Zealand Nurses Association, also back a ban.