Should Prescription Drug Advertising on TV Be Banned?

We're working on a story about a recent push by lawmakers to get direct-to-consumer prescription ads banned from TV, or at least much more tightly regulated.

Do you think they educate patients properly, or harm them by making unreasonable and dangerous promises? Here's some background discussion, recently posted on

Thank you in advance for your time.

Doctor Answers 1

DTC advertising: Yes or no?

Many of these advertisements tend to use the equivalent of small print in legal agreements. Although many of them report side effects, they tend to do this in a dismissive manner at the end of the advertisement with rapid speech transmitted in a lower tone or volume than the body of the ad.

On the other hand, the USA is already very restrictive in comparison to other world markets. Coming to market in the USA is significantly more difficult and expensive due to the FDA. it is nearly impossible to transmit all possible risks to the patient. This would be equivalent to telling an airline passenger before boarding the plane that: 1) the weather could cause the plane to crash, 2) pilot may be tired 3) the engine may not be properly mounted 4) the geese may fly into the engine 5) the wings may have metal fatigue and break 6) etc.

In any situation the prescriber (airline company) must perform due diligence to inform the patient (traveler) of these risks and do what it can to prevent complications. However, the patient (traveler) must also assume some risk.
Obviously any intentional efforts to mislead, misinform, conceal or decieve must be treated accordingly.

I found the following example to one DTC ad to be very informative and you may want to review how subtle manipulation of the ad content can be misleading to the public who may not have the medical knowledge to discern or distinguish or evaluate the accuracy of the material presented.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.