While the debate on the advertising of prescription drugs continues, a new study published online in the Journal of Public Health provides guidelines to improve the advertising of drugs in order to minimize potential damage and maximize benefits. The study found that while there are some benefits of prescription drugs directly to consumers (PDC), there are risks that are magnified by the importance of the PDC.Advertising must provide specific quantitative information on the potential risks associated with drugs, no other visual or audio distractions, so that consumers can better understand the risks associated with prescription drugs. The study, ‘A decade of controversy: the criterion of balancing tests to the regulation of advertising of prescription drugs’
Ads must provide accurate and specific about the potential benefits of advertised drugs, and should help consumers to try those benefits by providing realistically accurate quantitative. Ads should indicate how this drug compared with placebo or other treatments available, including generics.
In a review of the evidence for or against direct advertising, Frosch and colleagues confirm that there are some advantages for drug ads, but they are limited and can be improved. The evidence clearly shows that there is a significant risk and potential damages associated with the current format of prescription drug ads. Most advertising does not provide sufficient information to enable consumers to clearly identify if the advertised drug is good for them. The dramatic performance and emotional benefits of a drug may also mislead consumers, while the message about the risks are often diluted contradicting imaging.
‘Spectators Americans are not less than 16 hours of advertising of prescription drugs every year, and the reality is that these ads are not doing a good job of helping consumers make better decisions about their health,’ said Dominick L. Frosch, PhD., Assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of the study. ‘If the pharmaceutical industry is not willing to change the ads to make them more useful to consumers, Congress should consider legislation that will regulate the ads to improve the information provided to help patients make more informed choices.’
In light of these findings, the authors propose new guidelines to improve the advertising of prescription pharmaceutical products in order to better serve the consumer choices of health: