Commercials are usually just 30 seconds. But in all, Americans are exposed to up to 16 hours of prescription drug ads on TV every year and now, a new study says that may be educating consumers in an unhealthy way.
The study in the Annals of Family Medicine says nearly all televised pharmaceutical ads are based on emotional appeal instead of medical facts. So, as a result, consumers are asking their doctors to prescribe products which may be inappropriate for them.
"What we would really like to see is that the ads stay away from trying to manipulate consumer emotions in promoting prescription drugs. Medical decisions really should be based on sound factual information. Our message to consumers is that they really should be more skeptical of these advertisements," said Dr. Dominick Frosch, of the UCLA School of Medicine.
More than 80 percent of the ads analyzed for the study made some factual claim, but only fourth of the commercials described risk factors that would indicate you might need that drug. The pharmaceutical research and manufacturers of America which represents drug companies argues that the study doesn't reflect new ads that explain more.
At any rate the message is good. Don't believe everything you hear especially when it comes from a TV commercial. By the way, Congress is scheduled to take up the issue of drug advertising early in this session.