New FDA Website Provides Information about DTC Ads

September 11, 2008
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors
ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

The US Food and Drug Administration launched a new website to educate the general public about direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription medications.

Rockwell, MD (Sept. 5)-The US Food and Drug Administration launched a new website to educate the general public about direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription medications. The site, titled "Be Smart About Prescription Drug Advertising," is hosted by FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. FDA developed the site in partnership with EthicAd, a volunteer, nonprofit organization devoted to improving public health through consumer education.

In a press release, Michael S. Shaw, executive director of EthicAd, noted that the new site’s purpose is to help the public obtain accurate, science-based information about prescription drugs and explain the role and nature of DTC advertising.

“People are often confused about DTC advertising, which is one of the most controversial areas of pharmaceutical marketing,” Shaw said in the press release. “FDA’s new website helps clarify the issues by outlining the different types of DTC advertising, explaining what information people should expect to see in DTC ads, and what additional information they should seek out about advertised products.”

The site includes an “Ask Yourself” checklist that describes the information that consumers should obtain so they can speak knowledgeably with their physicians about advertised products. One section of the website accepts public comments, which will influence the direction of FDA’s future consumer-oriented initiatives.

“We share the FDA’s commitment to developing innovative and relevant education programs,” Shaw said in the press release. “By helping consumers obtain factual and reliable information about prescription drugs and have empowered conversations with their healthcare providers about treatment options, EthicAd and the FDA hope to improve individual patient outcomes as well as improve the public health at large.”

EthicAd aims to promote DTC ads that provide substantive, understandable, and reliable information about drug products. Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, a heart surgeon and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, founded the organization. EthicAd receives no funding from the pharmaceutical industry.