Only two countries on earth allow drug companies to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers: New Zealand and the U.S. Yes, that’s right, residents of the other 191 countries in the world miss out on those omnipresent TV ads we see every night. And soon we may be all alone in that pleasure: The Press reported last week that New Zealand may ban direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads in the next few weeks.
Predictably, the drug industry has gone bonkers in response to the potential ban. The article reports Merck withdrew its sponsorship of the “Propecia® Rally New Zealand,” a motor rally which draws 100,000 spectators and a large TV audience. Propecia®, of course, is a Merck drug. In an even bigger threat, drug industry spokesmen warned they may not be able to introduce the latest drugs into New Zealand and they may stop doing drug research in the country if ads are banned.
Who knew drug ads were the fountainhead of drug research and new drugs? Maybe someone should tell those other 191 countries what they’re missing.