LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs offers some benefits but also has significant risks that can be magnified, U.S. researchers said.
"American television viewers see as many as 16 hours of prescription drug advertisements each year, and the reality is that these ads are not doing a good job of helping consumers make better decisions about their health," lead author Dominick L. Frosch of the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. "If the pharmaceutical industry isn't willing to change the ads to make them more useful to consumers, Congress should consider passing legislation that will regulate the ads to improve the information provided in order to help patients make more informed choices."
Frosch and his colleagues confirmed there are some benefits to drug ads, but they are limited and can be improved. The majority of ads fail to provide enough information to allow consumers to identify clearly whether the advertised drug is right for them.
Over-dramatization and emotional portrayal of a drug's benefits can be misleading to consumers, while messages about its risks are often diluted by contradictory imagery.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Public Health.