FDA Imposes Tighter Regulations on Internet Ads of Drugs

In its letters sent to 14 pharmaceutical companies in March 2009, FDA required risk information to be included in the Internet search advertisements of drugs – a move welcomed by consumer advocates, reports Stephanie Clifford in a New York Times story.

The short text ads that appear to the right of Google search results are limited to 95 characters, in which space pharmaceutical companies are now required to include not only the drug’s name but also its risk information. Although the drug companies had made risk information available just one click away from the search ads, which linked to a webpage containing detailed information of the drugs including side effects, the FDA issued this new requirement to ensure consumers are not misled.

Rita Chappelle of the FDA said in an NYT interview that it’s “vital and critical” that consumers do not mistakenly believe the drugs to be safer or more effective than they really are. This precaution is especially important in drugs that have frequently occurring or serious side effects, such as depression, liver damage, infections or severe allergic reactions.

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