Can direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs be effectively regulated?

N Z Med J. 2019 Jun 7;132(1496):59-65.


The government of New Zealand is currently considering a new Therapeutic Products Regulatory Scheme that includes how direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs should be regulated. This article reviews three different types of possible regulation of DTCA: government regulation, industry self-regulation and a mixture of the two. Recent studies demonstrate that DTC ads in the US continue to be misleading and contain minimal if any educational value, despite governmental regulatory efforts by the Food and Drug Administration. Other regulatory models are equally unsuccessful at controlling DTCA. Available evidence suggests that DTC ads are commonly misinterpreted as trusted public health messages and are more likely to affect vulnerable subgroups of New Zealanders. Taken together with the international evidence that regulation has consistently failed to prevent the inappropriate promotion of prescription medicines, these findings suggest that DTCA is more likely to cause harm than benefit and should be banned.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Direct-to-Consumer Advertising / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • New Zealand
  • Prescription Drugs*
  • United States


  • Prescription Drugs