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TV drug ads: The whole truth?
Date:9/16/2013

LEBANON, NH (Sept. 16, 2013) Consumers should be wary when watching those advertisements for pharmaceuticals on the nightly TV news, as six out of 10 claims could potentially mislead the viewer, say researchers in an article published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers Adrienne E. Faerber of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and David H. Kreling of The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy found that potentially misleading claims are prevalent throughout consumer-targeted prescription and non-prescription drug advertisements on television.

Over the past 15 years, researchers and policymakers have debated whether drug advertising informs consumers about new drugs, or persuades consumers to take medicines that they may not need. "Healthcare consumers need unrestricted access to high-quality information about health," said Faerber of The Dartmouth Institute, "but these TV drug ads had misleading statements that omitted or exaggerated information. These results conflict with arguments that drug ads are helping inform consumers."

Pharmaceutical companies spent $4.8 billion in 2009, surpassing consumer promotion for nonprescription products of $3 billion that year, the researchers said.

Content for this study came from the Vanderbilt TV News Archive, an indexed archive of recordings of the nightly news broadcasts (the news and commercial segments) on ABC, CBS, and NBC since 1968 and on CNN since 1992. Researchers viewed advertisements in the 6:30𔃅 pm EST period because the nightly news is a desirable time slot for drug advertisers because of the older audience that watches the nightly news.

The researchers reviewed 168 TV advertisements for prescription and over-the-counter drugs aired between 2008 and 2010, and identified statements that were strongly emphasized in the ad. A team of trained analysts then classified those claims as being
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Contact: Annmarie Christensen
annmarie.christensen@dartmouth.edu
603-653-0897
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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