FDA beefs up generics-use push with radio PSAs

Radio is the newest type of media in the FDA's ad campaign to promote generic drug use, laddering into its overall drug competition plan. (FDA)

The FDA campaign to promote wider use of generics got a bigger media push recently with the addition of radio. Three public service radio announcements, two in English and one in Spanish, feature short messages focused on the fact that generics are safe, effective and money-saving.

The overall campaign began last September with TV and print ads, along with educational brochures and infographics, with a budget of $2 million, an FDA spokesman said by email. The campaign is set to run through March 2019 when the funding expires, he said.

The TV ad, which has run on local and cable channels and in physician offices, features a blue cloud character introduced as “Blue,” who’s not feeling well and gets a generic prescription from the doctor. Blue wonders if generics “really work as well as name brands?” But the narrator assures that they do, and in the end, Blue saves some green and feels less blue.

Palladian Partners created the campaign, while the FDA contracted MediaForce to distribute the PSA.

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Although the campaign began before the larger strategic drug competition plan was more recently laid out by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the agency is hopeful that the ads will reinforce that plan and “the quality and value of generic drugs.”

“We hope the campaign will complement the agency’s other efforts on drug competition. As more generics become available in the marketplace, the FDA wants to continue to let consumers know that approved generic drugs are equal to their brand-name counterparts in safety, effectiveness and quality, often for a lower cost,” the spokesman said.

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He referred to “the Commissioner’s important competition plan,” more formally known as the Drug Competition Action Plan, which Gottlieb has called “one of the FDA’s highest priorities in 2018.”

The plan includes accelerating approvals tor generic drug applications and making it harder for brand companies to prevent generics from coming to market.