Concerns over "tasteless and, possibly, harmful" advertising of amphetamines and other prescription drugs in the US are raised in an article published on bmj.com.
Dr Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser to the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, describes how a Los Angeles boutique is selling athletic shirts emblazoned with the word "Adderall" - a prescription amphetamine for treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Although Shire, the manufacturer of Adderall, says it is "gravely" concerned that the use of Adderall on the shirts "glorifies the misuse and diversion of a federally controlled prescription drug, Wolfe points out that the company "has been pulled up by the FDA for overstating the benefits of its product in its own direct to consumer advertising campaign."
This included a webpage and a YouTube video overstating the efficacy of Adderall XR, and omitting important risk information about the drug. Neither the webpage nor the video appears any longer on the internet.
Wolfe explains that direct to consumer prescription drug advertising in print advertisements and on television is currently only allowed in the United States and in New Zealand, "which probably influences manufacturers' conduct online."
Unfortunately, Europe has considered allowing it, he adds. And he agrees with opponents of direct to consumer advertising for prescription drugs that "its wider introduction would lead to a 'pharma knows best' culture."