Study: Drug Ads Misleading. No, Really.

Big pharma uses tricks, distractions to veil harmful side-effects
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2008 12:18 PM CDT

(Newser) – Drug ads are multiplying on TV, and manufacturers are starting to advertise medical equipment used in invasive procedures, so now might be a good time to wonder what the spots are telling us. Not as much as they should, Time reports. An independent researcher has found drug companies are using distractions, fast-talking, and tricks gleaned from neuroscience to downplay negative side-effects.

According to a government study, every $1,000 big pharma spends on ads buys 24 new prescriptions, and almost $5 billion is spent annually. If they work wonders, it may be because side-effects, which must be discussed by FDA mandate, are often sequestered somewhere after the middle, but not at the end of the ad, where they are most likely to be forgotten.