FDA weighs crackdown on 'distracting images' in DTC ads

In every pharmaceutical television commercial there's the bit at the end while a voiceover intones a litany of potential side effects and
drug warnings likely to startle anyone thinking of taking it. Of course, that's when the video usually takes in an intimate hug on a
sailboat or a walk in the woods with a golden lab. And millions of people in the audience apparently are more tuned in to the pictures
than the cautionary message inserted into the promo.

"They use the tranquil scenes to lessen the impact. If you just listened to the words, it would scare the heck out of you," Allyse
Lancaster, director of the advertising program at UM's School of Communications, tells The Miami Herald.

Now the FDA is taking public comments on a proposed rule that would ban "distracting images" while the side effect treatise is read out. And that has helped spur quite a debate over just how these commercials are presented to consumers. There is no debate, though, about whether pharma is getting a good return for the bucks it spends on advertising.

In the 10 years leading to 2010, drug ad spending jumped 54%, hitting $4.3 billion, notes the Herald. Drug spending over that time soared 78% in the U.S., hitting $307 billion--while the consumer price index climbed a mere 23%. Pharma marketers appear to have a proven formula for what works; one they won't gladly give up because of FDA prodding.

- see The Miami Herald piece

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