Direct-to-Consumer Drug Ads Minimize Risks, Exaggerate Benefits

As I wrote over two years ago, since the mid-1990s pharmaceutical companies have tripled the amount of money they spend on advertising prescription drugs directly to consumers. These direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads often minimize the risks and exaggerate the benefits of medications. Since the ads are so misleading, researchers are suggesting that the ads contain a "prescription drug benefits box," similar to food nutrition labels, that would present drug data in a clear way. While this may seem like a good step, when you consider that the United States is the only country other than New Zealand with legal DTC ads, and New Zealand is considering banning them, it seems like the move is much too little too late.

Science Blog April 30, 2004

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