TV commercials about prescription drugs tend to start out with the promise of a better future. You'll hear about the benefits of the drug and might see images of healthy looking people enjoying life.
But somewhere in the middle of the commercial you'll start to hear about the drug's dreadful side effects. It's typically an eye-popping list of disturbing ailments and conditions: diarrhea, nausea, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, sexual dysfunction and other unpleasant and potentially deadly maladies. You might realize that drug injury attorneys have their work cut out for them.
The law requires that all the risks of the drugs are communicated in the ad. A pharmaceutical company can get into trouble for leaving out or downplaying risk information. Most people would agree that consumers deserve to understand the risks associated with any type of drug they might consider using.
But recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began a study to find if the lengthy verbal citations should be shortened, according to the New York Daily News. While it sounds like the FDA is on the side of "big pharma" and wants to downplay the risk, the idea of shortening these lists is actually to help consumers. Officials are concerned that people may tune out or not understand the dangers if the list of risks is too long.
In 2012, Kansas State and Michigan State universities conducted a study that found that some warning labels may not attract sufficient attention. The research suggests that many consumers, especially senior citizens, ignore the warnings. If you think that ignoring the risk is no big deal, think again. Inattention leads to millions of medication errors each year.
Should the FDA Curtail the Mention of Side Effects in Ads?
The FDA realizes that some consumers may be harmed if the mention of the side effects is dropped from TV ads. With that in mind, the regulating agency is considering limiting the risks mentioned in ads to those "that are serious and actionable." In other words, you would hear about a serious side effect that might lead to a drug lawsuit, but the minor side effects. Advertisers, however, may be required to inform viewers to examine the label and talk to their doctors.
The Daily News states that the study by the FDA will involve more than 15,000 adults considering four different versions of a TV ad. They will then respond to online questions. The study will enlist typical consumers, not anyone from the health care or marketing fields. The public will have 60 days to comment before the FDA takes further action.
Regardless of the eventual findings, consumers should remember they have rights if they are injured or lose a loved one after being exposed to a prescription or over-the-counter medication. Don't hesitate to call an experienced drug recall lawyer for a free consultation. You won't have to worry about upfront costs. Most injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay if the attorney makes a recovery.