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Decline in TV Ads Could Reduce Dangerous Drug Cases

When drug manufacturers were given the opportunity to advertise on television for the first time, the decision was a controversial one. There were concerns that patients would be misled by drug ads or prompted to ask for drugs from their doctors they didn't really need or that weren't right for them. There were also concerns that patients would be more inclined to ask for expensive or name-brand drugs instead of just trusting their doctor to choose a medication, which might perhaps have been a better one.

Our Framingham, MA dangerous drug lawyers know that many of these concerns were not unfounded. In 2004, for example, the drug manufacturer Merck had to withdraw Vioxx after studies showed that the pain killer increased the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Vioxx had been very heavily advertised on TV and many more patients may have used the drug due to the advertisements than might have otherwise been exposed to Vioxx.

Unfortunately, TV drug advertising has long continued unabated despite criticisms. Now, however, the New York Times indicated that there may finally be a decline in drug ads on TV as many drug makers are pulling back and dialing down their ad budgets.

As the New York Times reports:

  • Nielsen estimates that drug manufacturers spent approximately $3.1 billion advertising various products in the year 2007. This was 10 years after the FDA had first lifted its regulations. In 1997, the FDA had permitted drug manufacturers to advertise on TV to consumers for the first time.
  • During the past five years, and especially in 2010 and 2011, spending on drug ads for TV audiences has fallen more than 20 percent. This dramatic decline contrasts sharply with the rapid increase in spending leading up to the $3.1 billion ad budgets in 2007.

The Times indicates that there are a lot of potential reasons why drug companies may not be advertising as much on TV. One obvious reason is that there has continued to be controversy about whether these ads are a bad thing, with high-profile cases like Vioxx  drawing even more attention to the issue.

Complaints from both insurance companies and from doctors are also cited as a possible reason for the sharp decline in the number of companies advertising their drug products directly to television audiences. Both doctors and health insurance companies believe that TV ads tend to draw patients into taking medications that are the most costly, even if there are other alternatives that are just as good or better. Both costs and concern over patients health have made doctors wary of drug ads.

Another possible reason for the decline in drug advertisements is that the F.D.A. and the American Medical Association (AMA) have been monitoring these ads more carefully in recent years, especially in light of the problem caused by widespread acceptance of new (and dangerous) drugs. Crackdowns and closer monitoring can make drug manufacturers nervous that their ads won't pass muster.

Whatever the reason for the decline, however, it is clear that fewer advertisements is a good thing. Hopefully without aggressive ad campaigns, new drugs will spread more slowly throughout the market so there will be more time to catch potential problems before they are embraced by huge numbers of people who could get hurt if they turn out to be defective.

If you've been injured, call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 for a free consultation with one of the personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.