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Do Side Effect Warnings in Pharmaceutical Commercials Mislead Consumers?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering new requirements for how prescription medications are advertised on television. The concern is that the long litany of side effects listed at the end of advertisements may overwhelm, or potentially mislead consumers, leading to confusion about the most serious risks.

The FDA’s study will specifically consider whether side effect warnings should be limited to the most serious risks. Less serious side effects would be mentioned as simply “potential additional risks.”

“Our hypothesis is that, relative to inclusion of the full major statement, providing limited risk information along with the disclosure about additional risks will promote improved consumer perception and understanding of serious and actionable drug risks,” the FDA stated.

The FDA has also raised concerns that pharmaceutical companies may also omit important drug safety information. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Dartmouth University have found that “potentially misleading claims are prevalent throughout consumer-targeted prescription and nonprescription drug advertising on television.” In fact, 57 percent of ads were found to be misleading.

To determine what requirements should be used going forward, the FDA plans to survey 1,500 study participants after exposing them to advertisements containing various levels of disclosures, and then measure their risk perceptions.

As San Diego product liability attorneys, we will be closely tracking the FDA’s study and will provide updates as they become available.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by a dangerous or defective drug, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego product liability attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.