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Consumer Briefs | PHARMACEUTICALS Images in TV drug ads to be examined

September 02, 2007|From Times Wire Services

The Food and Drug Administration plans to study how people react to television drug commercials to determine whether upbeat images give viewers an overwhelmingly positive impression despite warnings about potential side effects.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a Washington-based trade group, said TV ads were an important way for patients to learn about diseases and treatments.

Drug companies are legally required to present a balanced picture of a drug's benefits and risks in promotions. But critics allege that the images of smiling and relaxed couples and families featured in commercials overshadow warnings about possible complications.

A study published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that the FDA's drug-ad enforcement had declined. The FDA sent 21 citations to drug companies last year for problems with ads, compared with 142 in 1997, the article's authors said. Drug industry spending on such advertising soared 330% to $29.9 billion in 2005 from $11.4 billion in 1996.

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