Patient Protection bill to curb misleading drug advertising heard in committee

IMG_6752A bill to protect patients from misleading advertisements was heard in House Health and Human Services on Thursday, but no vote was taken.

Health and Family Services Chair Kim Moser, sponsor of House Bill 225, said the issue was brought to her attention by several patient groups and healthcare providers who recognized a need to raise awareness about the risks to patient health created by misleading legal advertising about prescription drugs.

Drug-injury advertisements on television, radio and social media have increased by more than 60 percent since 2008, putting patients’ lives at risk across the U.S. driven by law firms and aggregators, these commercials feature sensationalized claims that go unchecked due to a lack of proper oversight, leading patients who take critically important medications to doubt or discontinue their treatment regimen without consulting their physician.

Chair Moser told the committee that House Bill 225 aims to tackle this issue by requiring advertisements to properly warn patients that it is dangerous to stop taking a prescribed medication before consulting with a physician, prohibiting advertisements that solicit legal business from being mis-labeled as a “medical alert,” “health alert,” or “public service announcement,” and protecting personal health information from being used to solicit legal services without the prior consent of the patient.

Testifying with Chair Moser in support was Sheryl Snyder, and attorney who spoke on the constitutionality of the bill and Dr. Bob Couch, and emergency room doctor representing the Kentucky Medical Association.

The Kentucky Justice Association (KJA) spoke against the bill but acknowledged the work that Chair Moser and supporters of the bill provided to make some of the changes requested to approve the bill. KJA President, Vanessa Cantley, stated that advertisers are often out of state, but are still able to reach Kentuckians. KJA stated they support requiring a statement in advertisements to consult with a physician before changing medications but outlined concerns they still had with the bill despite amendments.

With just nine days left of the General Assembly, both sides agreed to continue working on this issue to see if there is a resolution to some of the concerns addressed in committee.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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