Between 1997 and 2001 spending on direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising more than doubled. Opinions differ as to whether and to what extent DTC advertising benefits the doctor-patient relationship. Some analysts argue that the current regulatory regime is sufficient, others advocate a stricter enforcement, and still others promote an outright ban. An alternative may be to use the purchasing power of the federal government to require the inclusion of comparative quality data, thus creating a basis for more informed consumer choice. This approach could create incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to adjust spending on DTC advertising while avoiding "big government" interference with commercial free speech.