Monday, June 26, 2006

Drug Maker Calls for Limiting Risk Information in Drug Ads

At a time when many are calling for more risk information in direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads, a new study from AstraZeneca puts a cap on the number of risks mentioned in TV spots before the consumer is overloaded.

Three is optimal. Four is good. Five is OK. Anything more than that, said the drug maker, and you start wandering into too-much-information territory.

But this runs contrary to counter to what the rest of the industry has discussed. The Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly asked for more risk information, and in remarks earlier this year the director of its drug marketing, advertising and communications division, Thomas Abrams, noted that 82% of pharmaceutical company violations in the past year were related to inadequate presentation of risk information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you're missing the point of the proposal. The main idea is that more than 5 side-effects is bad communication. The result is that people don't remember any of them. If DTC ads were allowed to only mention the most common 3-5 side-effects then people would have a greater chance of remembering them and watching out for them if they are on the medication in question.
The current regulation doesn't help the patient make an informed choice, it has only led to a distorted risk perception across the board for medicines. Companies are now regularly turning down development of medicines that are highly effective in dangerous diseases, but which have some side effects that for vanishingly small minority of patients would be serious. This effectively amounts to "withholding treatment" in my mind.
As a pharmacology professor once told me, "the only drug without side-effects is one without effect", and this is completely true.