Tuesday, January 30, 2007

DTC drug commercials don't give the full story...duh

An analysis of television commercials for prescription drugs found that few mentioned risk factors or non-drug treatments for the conditions they target, scientists reported Monday.  The researchers recorded commercials that aired in prime time on ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox from June 30 to July 27, 2004. They ended up with 38 unique ads representing seven of the 10 top-selling prescription drugs of 2004, they write in the Annals of Family Medicine.  "All of the ads … contained elements that we considered problematic," says lead author Dominick Frosch, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles. "I think consumers should be more skeptical of the pharmaceutical ads than some surveys find they are."  Among flaws identified by Frosch and his collaborators:

•Only a quarter of the ads mentioned causes or risk factors for the condition treated by the drug.

•None of the commercials mentioned lifestyle changes as an alternative to medication (for example, diet and exercise to lower cholesterol), although about a fifth mentioned such changes as an adjunct to medication.

•Only a quarter of the commercials mentioned how common or uncommon the treated disease is.

Read more in USA Today.


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