Side Effects May Include... Hey, Look over There!

"Prescription drug ads have drawn fire for portraying healthy-looking, active and smiling patients while explaining benefits and then rushing through or providing distractions when required risk information is presented," reports Reuters. For example, an ad for a Schering-Plough allergy drug featured "a bee that flew around during a description of side effects but simply hovered while benefits were explained." These and other marketing tricks may "misleadingly minimize the risks" of drugs and medical devices, acknowledges the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA issued new marketing guidelines that say it will consider "the messages conveyed by the promotional piece as a whole" when evaluating whether ads "present risk information adequately." Representatives from two industry groups, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Advanced Medical Technology Association, pointed to their voluntary ad guidelines as proof that their marketing is "responsible."