Pay No Attention to the Industry-Funded Group Behind the Website

Prescription pillsTo develop its new website that tries to help the public understand direct-to-consumer drug ads, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "turned to a nonprofit front group erected by Shaw Science Partners, a public relations firm that specializes in launching new drugs," according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). EthicAd, the nonprofit behind the FDA site, is funded by Shaw Science and its own board members. Shaw Group founder Michael Shaw admitted that "if not all, almost all" of EthicAd's funders "do work for industry." EthicAd also "shares the same physical address as Shaw Science Partners." CSPI gives a negative review of the FDA site, calling it "jargon-filled" and lacking advice on how to evaluate messages about drug side effects, among other consumer topics. CSPI is calling on the FDA "to scuttle the web site, to terminate its relationship with the drug companies' PR firm, and to seek out advice from leading physicians, pharmacists, or consumer groups."