The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it plans to take a better look on how drug-makers describe their products and to make them focus on better explaining what the drug exactly do, and how consumers and healthcare professionals (HCPs) can detect false promotions.
FDA points out that prescription drug promotion sometimes includes false or misleading claims, images, or other presentations; for instance, representations that a drug is more effective or less risky than is demonstrated by appropriate evidence.
This can give the patients idea that they might ask their doctors to prescribe them some drugs that are actually not good for them, as no research has investigated the ability of consumers and healthcare professionals (HCPs) to independently identify deceptive prescription drug promotion.
It also means that doctors might prescribe their patients drugs that are not good for them.
The importance of medical professional to recognize misleading promotions can have positive effects, as the regulatory bodies could then be informed about it.
“The FDA Bad Ad program, for example, encourages HCPs to report deceptive prescription drug promotion, a goal which requires that HCPs successfully identify such promotion when it appears in the course of their duties,” the FDA has said.
The US healthcare watchdog believes that similar programs should be conducted for consumers, so that they too could recognize false or misleading drug promotions. This should be important not only for patients to avoid getting wrong treatment, but also to push a little bit harder for the drug-promoters to pay more attention on how they present their products.
FDA proposed two studies in which participants’ ability to recognize false presentations for prescription drugs would be tested.
Each study would be administered to two separate populations (i.e., HCPs and consumers affected by the condition). According to the FDA, HCPs will view mock pharmaceutical Web sites targeted toward physicians and consumers will view mock consumer-targeted pharmaceutical Web sites. For example, HCP Web sites may contain more statistical information or medical terminology. For the purposes of the study, a professional firm will create all mock Web sites such that they are indistinguishable from currently available prescription drug Web sites.