Prescription Drug Ads – Your Help Needed

What do you think of those prescription ads you see on TV, in magazines, newspapers and other places? Do you think they are helpful? Do you get frustrated because you know you can’t purchase those drugs directly anyway? Did you go to your doctor to ask about one of them? Do you think they are dangerous?

Prescription drug ads will be on TV for a long time. People may be objecting, but pharma is making a lot of money from them. I expect we’ll see many more of them, not fewer.

Truth is — if viewed in the right way, they can be useful. Unlike the dozens of anti-pharma folks who call for the demise of those ads, I say — if you can’t beat ’em, then learn about ’em.

And now, my friend Kim Witczak, founder of Woody Matters, has teamed with Consumer’s Union (non-profit publishers of Consumers Report) to petition the FDA to make these ads more helpful to consumers. It’s an idea borne of Kim’s wish to make drugs safer for Americans, based on the death of her husband, Woody, whose side effects from Zoloft caused him to take his own life.

The idea is that many side effects are unreported by drug companies, and the FDA can’t know about them unless those who take the drugs report them. (Don’t EVEN get me started on how that happens!) The proposal / petition asks for all pharma drug ads to include an 800 number and web address to report these problems as a part of the ad or commercial. Kinda like the warning on cigarette packaging — but even more useful because it’s a way we patients can really take action.

MedWatch is the FDA’s process for consumers to use to report their negative side effects and outcomes, but most consumers don’t know about it. The toll free number and web addresses already exist for reporting. (See below for that info.)

Consumer’s Union is hoping to garner 50,000 signatures — and you can easily sign right here online. You can take 30 seconds to say YES! to the idea of adding these two ways to report problems with drugs. Just follow this link to have your say.

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Do you want to report side effects, problems or adverse events for a drug you take to the FDA?

Link here to MedWatch.

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1 comment

    • Howard on January 18, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Prescription drugs are CONTROLLED substances. Why do we allow the advertisement/promotion of controlled substances at all? Hard liquor commercials have been banned. Cigarette commercials have been banned. Prescription drug prices are out of control. Banning the ads would reduce the costs. If you are sick and in need of drugs, your doctor will know what you need. It is not the job of TV ads to diagnose and treat us!

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