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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 609

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: Journal Article

Lexchin J.
Direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs: the next steps
Can J Clin Pharmacol 1996; 3:(2):65


Abstract:

If direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs comes to Canada there are a number of controls that need to be put into place: advertising material must be precleared; DTCA has to present a balanced picture of the risk/benefit ratio of treatments; DTCA should not be allowed until postmarketing studies have been completed in order to detect rare side effects; and DTCA should show consumers how the product compares with other treatment modalities. Violations of any marketing code for DTCA should include an escalating pyramid of sanctions. The effects of DTCA on prescribing behaviour, drug use and health of patients will need to be evaluated.

Keywords:
*analysis Canada DTCA direct-to-consumer advertising enforcement pyramid preclearance of advertisements regulation of promotion PROMOTIONAL TECHNIQUES: DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER ADVERTISING REGULATION, CODES, GUIDELINES: COMPLIANCE, SANCTIONS, STANDARDS

 

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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963