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FDA Examines Ways to Improve Consumer Understanding of Prescription Drug Ads
Date:6/20/2011

SILVER SPRING, Md., June 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Findings from three studies conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirm that the way information is conveyed and displayed in printed drug advertising affects consumer understanding of prescription medications.

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The studies, designed by experts in FDA's Division of Drug, Marketing, Advertising and Communications (DDMAC) in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, examined ways to improve understanding of how consumers use the "brief summary" section of printed prescription drug ads.

The online edition of the journal "Medical Decision Making" published findings from the third study today.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act specifies that print advertisements for prescription drugs and biological products are required to provide a true statement of information "in brief summary" about the advertised product's "side effects, contraindications, and effectiveness."  

"Some of the current approaches to fulfilling the brief summary requirement, while adequate from a regulatory perspective, are not optimal in communicating this important information to consumers," said Thomas Abrams, director of DDMAC. "FDA's research and policy development seeks to improve the presentation of this information so it is easier for consumers to read and understand."

Print ads for prescription drugs are often two (or more) pages long. The first page of the prescription drug ad may feature a picture, information about what the product is intended to be used for, and important information about the product's risks. The second page summarizes all the product's risks and may be presented as densely-packed text information.

In the first study, a serious risk was added to the first and second page of the ad.  In
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SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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