Side Effects May Include Phoning the FDA

If you take ___, you may experience ___.

The drug business is huge and ads for medicines are everywhere these days. Last year, pharmaceutical companies spent about $3.5 billion on TV ads.

As part of the advertising, companies are required to list the benefits and risks of the drugs. Most of us recognize these as the long list of unsavory side effects at the end of the commercial that make us wonder if it’s worth the trouble.

Soon the FDA will start looking into whether or not to require an addition piece of information: a toll-free number for consumers to report their own side effects. Print ads are required to display contact information for the FDA, but that does not (yet) apply to TV ads.

The FDA plans to study whether a toll-free number should be instituted in TV ads. Part of the study will cover how much of the already dense information viewers absorb and whether including another element will distract from our comprehension of important safety information.

Soon, ads might get a little bit longer: “If you take ___, you may experience ___ and you should call the FDA at ___.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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