FDA kind of gets it right-DTC Ads

fda almost rightAccording to the Pink Sheet: The long litany of a prescription drug’s risks in direct-to-consumer television ads could become a thing of the past. FDA plans to conduct a study to determine the impact of limiting risks presented in the ads to those that are serious and actionable while also stating that there are other risks not disclosed in the ad.   After viewing the ad, participants will respond to questions about information in the ad to assess their understanding of product risks and benefits; the disclosure about additional risks; product quality; their intention to seek more information about the product; and their perceptions of trust/skepticism regarding product claims and the sponsor.Can we apply the FDA findings to a wide audience and all prescription drugs?  The answer I believe is no.  My thesis is also that more people go online to learn about advertised prescription drugs while less ask their doctor about/for the product without doing more research.

When a consumer is watching a DTC ad and hears the words “side effects, sometimes fatal,  have been reported” I believe that’s enough of a game changer to say “I’m not even going to consider this product!”.


I would argue that DTC ads fair balance on TV needs to determined via each product not as a general guideline that can be applied universally to all products.  DTC marketers should be required, as part of their research demonstrate what’s important to the audience in terms of safety information.

What the FDA is trying to do is apply science to marketing when we know that consumers are anything but scientific when it comes to choosing products.


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