Study: Top drug websites confusing, unbalanced

Top drug websites are like Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole, a new analysis finds, you never know where they might take you. Two academic researchers took a look at the websites of the 100 best-selling drugs and found a navigational "maze" and a confusing mix of information and marketing.

What's more, these top drug sites often delivered information on safety and risks "in small font, in cumbersome un-bulleted blocks of text, detached from promotional text and videos and below a page's scrolling 'fold'." Under FDA principles--marked by the agency's recent moves on safety info in TV ads--that's a big no-no.

We also know that the agency is gathering info and comment for new regulations governing online promotions. To these researchers, rules for websites could only be a good thing. "The FDA has rules about direct-to-consumer print and television drug advertising," Dartmouth Linguistics Professor Lewis Glinert said, "so we think it makes sense to also regulate websites and other marketing tools when it comes to prescription medicine."

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