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Readers React: Free speech didn’t stop Congress from curtailing cigarette ads, so why can’t it ban prescription drug ads?

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To the editor: I read with interest — and pleasure — David Lazarus’ April 10 column, “TV commercials for prescription drugs ‘doing more harm than good.’”

As a 40-plus-year healthcare provider (in hospitals, long-term care and gerontology), I fully support the elimination of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs.

Many years ago, Congress successfully overcame free-speech issues when eliminating most cigarette advertising. If the will were there, we could effectively do the same while simultaneously saving the American public the $6 billion spent on ads by the drug companies last year. Plus, most folks could watch their favorite TV programs without the insensitive advertising that has driven many of us away from network television.

I have one point of disagreement with Lazarus: his statement that “we’re stuck” with these direct-to-consumer ads. As we’ve recently seen with focused efforts toward the gun lobby, we can change the outlook.

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Unfortunately, we lack the current leadership to do so. However, I am confident that we will ultimately have leaders willing to respond to the public interest (and public health).

Jeffrey S. Kirschner, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Thanks to Lazarus for his column on direct-to-consumer ads for medicine.

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I have told my primary care physician that I will not take any medicines advertised on television. She asked me why and I told her it’s just money laundering, nothing else, and she sighed, nodding her head knowingly.

I wish the rest of the country would do the same, but this kind of spending on ads is what puts TV news anchors in high-income brackets and allows networks to inundate us with useless — and harmful — “information.”

Anne Proffit, Long Beach

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook.

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