Ethical guidelines for doctors who advertise or endorse products and services

19 Jun 2014

The AMA this week released its revised and updated Position Statement on Advertising and Public Endorsement.

The Position Statement has been reworked to include ethical principles for advertising and endorsement by doctors.

AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said the overarching principle in regard to advertising or endorsements is that a doctor's primary duty is to act in the best interests of patients.

“In order to do this, doctors must maintain their professional autonomy, clinical independence, and integrity,” A/Prof Owler said.

Key components of the Position Statement include:

  • patients must be able to make informed choices regarding their use of health care related products and services. An informed choice depends on receiving reliable, balanced information, free from the influence of commercial consideration, communicated in a manner easily understood by patients;
  • when doctors advertise products or services, they have a professional duty to ensure advertising facilitates, and does not undermine, informed patient choice or appropriate medical referral;
  • advertising by doctors should not reflect poorly on the medical profession, undermine the public's view of the profession, or bring the profession into disrepute; and
  • advertising should never put commercial interests ahead of patients' health and well-being - it should be objective, not persuasive, so that patients can make informed choices.

Media release
The AMA Position Statement on Advertising and Public Endorsement