Would pharma profit from greater DTC clarity?

With a new FDA administration in charge, will Americans get new-and-improved DTC ads? And if ads offer improved clarity for consumers, might drugmakers suffer? An analysis in the Los Angeles Times suggests that a new push for easier-to-understand drug information would help drugmakers whose products work well, especially those that are clearly superior to competitor meds.

But readily comprehensible drug facts might sandbag products that profit from vague adspeak. And a cut-and-dried analysis of risks versus benefits could spur patients to forego drugs that, in their view, aren't worth the potential side effects.

An FDA advisory panel recommended that the agency adopt a "drug facts box" for pharmacist handouts, official drug labels and/or DTC ads. Instead of headache-inducing fine print about side effects and so on--or in addition to said legalese--drugs would bear a quick-hit, plain English box. The approach has been compared to nutrient labeling on foods. A Dartmouth study found that such boxes helped patients choose more effective meds over less effective ones (see the LATimes story for details).

No word yet on how the agency is leaning, but the FDA usually sides with its advisory panels. The committee chairman told the times that he's "optimistic" that the change will come. What do you think?

- read the LA Times story

ALSO: Are drugmakers mis-spending most of their promotional budgets? A new study from IMS found that traditional promotion efforts, including details and sampling, can only affect about 10 percent of prescriptions. And that sliver is make-or-break for new product launches. Report

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