News Brief

FDA Eyes Distraction From Risks In TV Drug Ads

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to study whether upbeat images in TV ads for drugs distract viewers from the drugs' risks.

The announcement, posted to the FDA Web site, comes on the heels of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggested the agency's drug-ad enforcement has steadily declined.

Total spending on pharmaceutical promotion grew from $11.4 billion in 1996 to $29.9 billion in 2005. Although during that time spending on direct-to-consumer advertising increased by 330%, it made up only 14% of total promotional expenditures in 2005.

The FDA says it plans to study how 2,000 people react to television drug ads to determine whether they have an overwhelmingly positive impression of products despite audio warnings about potential side effects.

--Tanya Irwin

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