"Consistent with recently updated guidelines, PhrMA is committed to a fair balance of risk and benefit information in all direct-to-consumer advertising," spokesman Greg Lopes said.
Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, agreed that better informed patients make better drug choices.
"Direct-to-consumer drug advertising is controversial in medical circles, largely out of concern that drug companies will talk patients into preferences not in their best interest," Katz said. "But I often encounter the opposite problem in my patients. After hearing the litany of potential side effects of a drug, they absolutely refuse to take it."
For a truly informed decision, Katz said, people need information about both the benefits and the harms of a given drug, and the relative risks and rewards of taking it or not.
"This study addresses that issue and suggests that when patients are given more complete information about drug risks and benefits, they use the information well and reach better conclusions," he said. "I like the idea."
"Marketing drugs directly to patients may be fine, provided they are given enough information to make sense of their options," Katz said.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has more on direct-to-consumer advertising.
SOURCES: Steven Woloshin, M.D., associate professor, medicine and community and family medicine, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, N.H.; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Greg Lopes, director, communications, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Washington, D.C.; Feb. 17, 2009, Annals of Internal Medicine, online
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