Last updated on: 3/29/2010 | Author:

Alan F. Holmer, JD Biography

Director of Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Pro to the question "Should Prescription Drugs Be Advertised Directly to Consumers?"

“Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is an excellent way to meet the growing demand for medical information, empowering consumers by educating them about health conditions and possible treatments. By so doing, it can play an important role in improving public health…

Direct-to-consumer advertising that encourages millions of Americans to consult their physicians can help to improve public health because a number of leading diseases are under diagnosed and under-treated…

Direct-to-consumer advertising is a highly effective way to communicate the availability of treatments to the public. In 1992, the first DTC consumer television advertisement for a nicotine patch aired during the Super Bowl. According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the public response was so great that, within weeks, demand for the patches exceeded the supply. The product had been available for months, but people who might have been interested in quitting smoking were simply not aware of it.

Advertising promoted widespread awareness overnight, prompted patient-physician conversations, and may have helped many people to stop smoking.

Pharmaceutical companies have both a right and a responsibility to inform people about their products under the supervision of the FDA, which regulates prescription drug advertising. Companies are committed to responsible advertising that enhances the patient-physician relationship and encourages the appropriate use of prescription drugs under a physician’s supervision. While such advertising prompts more people to seek professional help, it does not dictate the outcome of the physician visit or the kind of help patients eventually receive.

Direct-to-consumer advertising merely motivates patients to learn more about medical conditions and treatment options and to consult their physicians.”

“Direct to Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising Builds Bridges Between Patients and Physicians,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Director, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 2009-present
  • Chairman of the Board, Metropolitan Washington, DC Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations, 1999-present
  • Member, National Health Council, 1999-present
  • Member, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, 1996-present
  • Special Envoy, China and the Strategic Economic Dialogue, US Treasury Department, 2007-2009
  • Board Member, Corporate Governance Committee and the Compensation Committee, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 2005-2007
  • President and Chief Executive Officer, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), 1996-2005
  • Partner, Sidley & Austin international law firm, 1989-1996
  • Former Co-Chairman, President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS
  • Deputy US Trade Representative, 1987-1989
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Import Administration, US Department of Commerce, 1983-1985
  • Deputy Assistant to the President, Intergovernmental Affairs, 1981-1983
  • Associate, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, 1978-1981
  • JD, Georgetown University Law Center, 1978
  • AB, cum laude, Princeton University, 1971
  • None found
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Prescription Drugs Be Advertised Directly to Consumers?