You know that really, really fast rattling off of side effects at the end of every drug ad on TV? That’s there because companies are requried to present a “balanced” picture of the risks and benefits.
But seriously, who can understand a word beyond the rapid-fire “You may experience nausea, headache, blah blah, blah” or read fast enough to decipher the side effects that rapidly scroll down?
Well, apparently the FDA is planning a study with 2,000 people to see whether people are too distracted by the cheery ads to notice the risks. To which I say, Duh. This is such a sadly obvious stalling tactic: “Look, we’re doing this study, and we can’t take any action till our analysts have told us what it all means.”
It’s also damage control. Last week, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine said that in 2006, the FDA sent 21 warnings to companies about their ads, down from 142 in 1997. The amount companies have spent on ads went up a whopping 330% during that same time.
Here’s another sad little fact that the Associated Press mentioned in its coverage of this issue: The U.S. is one of two industrialized countries that permit TV drug ads — the other is New Zealand.