QUICK IDEA: Ask any cancer patients how they feel when they hear the word “chemotherapy” and you’re likely to hear a lot of negativity. BMS knows this which is why they are advertising “chemo-free” treatment on Twitter.
I like the ad a lot because it has two trigger phrases, chemo-free, and immunotherapy”. The ad is also a clear indication of why the FDA is stuck in the past with the requirement of failure balance for online ads.
Once you see the ad it scrolls to show fair balance but the problem is nobody who sees the ad on a smartphone is going to be able to read the fair balance but, more importantly, nobody is going to read the fair balance.
The FDA believes that people who see online ads for prescription drugs are going to run to their doctor to ask for an Rx. This of course is not true. If someone sees that add on Twitter they are going to click through to the BMS site. If they are really interested they’re going to do their homework before asking for/about it.
Fair balance requirements in prescription drug ads are a waste of time and money. At the heart of the requirement for fail balance is the belief that patients need to be informed but does the FDA really believe that online health seekers are going to read that copy?
I’ve spent so much time in research groups listening to and watching how people research prescription drugs. Do they want to know side effects? Sure, but they need it in context. For example, how many people got nauseous, how many felt drowsy?
Of course, the people who believe that drug companies shouldn’t be allowed to do any advertising also believe that patients are going to ask for drugs they don’t need. This is more out-of-touch than a Trump press conference.
I’ve seen of some the past FDA research on DTC and frankly, it’s myopic and faulty. Rather than do their own research I can’t understand why they just don’t subscribe to DRG or have them do research for them. If they did they would find out that virtually nobody sees a drug ad and asks for a product without first doing some research online.
The BMS ad is a good one but it clearly shows that the FDA requirements on fair balance are based on the past, not the online health seekers of today.