Should prescription drug ads be barred from subways and buses? One Queens lawmaker says ‘yes’

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A Flushing-based legislator is leading the call to eliminate prescription drug ads from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) buses, trains and public transit hubs.

Assemblyman Ron Kim has presented legislation to effectuate the ban on the ads, “which do not effectively convey the risks and dangers of these drugs to patients,” he said. The MTA recently banned alcohol advertising and barred tobacco ads more than 20 years ago.

A study released by the state comptroller in 2016 revealed that New York state has seen a spike in drug overdoses, largely attributed to the rising misuse of opioids: drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. The uptick mirrors a nationwide trend.

Additionally, in New York City, overdose deaths have increased for six consecutive years, with drug overdose deaths reaching a high of 1,374 in 2016.

The opioid epidemic was also declared a “national public health emergency” by President Trump on Oct. 26.

The U.S. and New Zealand are the only developed countries in the world that continue to allow the prescription drug industry to advertise directly to potential consumers, according to Kim. If this practice is allowed to continue, it will only serve to exacerbate the current drug misuse and overdose crisis, the assemblyman said.

“Many of those struggling with addiction are trapped in a desperate cycle that begins when they are prescribed excessive amounts of pain killers, the very same products being freely marketed and promoted to them on our public trains and buses,” Kim said. “These ads do not effectively convey the risks and dangers of these drugs to patients, and bypass the healthcare providers and professionals who provide the crucial medical advice needed to make informed decisions.”

Read the full bill by visiting the New York State Assembly website. The legislation is also sponsored by state Senator Diane Savino.

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