DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER ADS: FDA Won’t Issue Restrictions
The FDA is launching a two-year study of the impact of direct-to-consumer drug advertising on public health, but said Friday it would not act to restrict the ads during that period, Reuters/Nando Times reports. Drug companies spent $1.53 billion from March 1998 to March 1999 on direct-to-consumer ads, leading public health and consumer organizations to question "whether manufacturers were providing a true picture of drugs' risks and benefits." The FDA says, however, they have not yet observed evidence of harm to the public. Nancy Ostrove of the FDA's marketing, advertising and communications division, said, "Consumers seem to like it. They think it helps them become educated about their medications." The agency in 1997 lifted regulations that forced manufacturers to provide descriptions of all side effects in an ad, opting instead to simply require a list of major side effects and a source of more information. On Friday, the FDA said it was only making minor changes to broadcast ad regulations, "such as removing the requirement that companies fax copies of drug labels to consumers who request them." It is still reviewing its regulations for print ads. John Kamp, a spokesperson for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, said, "The FDA did the right thing. It recognized that direct to consumer helps inform consumers, and that's good for the public." But Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, said, "This system isn't working at all to stop, one after another, false and misleading television ads. By the time FDA catches up with these (ads), 10 to 20 million people have seen them" (8/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.