Are side effects warnings good for sales? In TV ads, yes

This is a story about either the virtues of honesty or the ever-changing minds of the American consumer. That litany of drug side effects that's delivered rapid-fire during television ads? They might actually attract customers rather than repel them.

As long as potential patients have time to think things over, that is. According to a new study, viewers who saw commercials that included listings of side effects--even scary ones, like blindness--shied away from the products in question at first. But a few days later, they were likely to buy more of the products than were viewers who saw commercials that omitted potential adverse effects.

As CNN reports, the researchers essentially came to the following conclusion: Viewers put on rose-colored glasses after some time passed. The scary side effects seemed abstract, less threatening.

In fact, the warning became a positive influence--an indicator of the company's honesty and trustworthiness. And the researchers concluded that trust trumped all. As CNN notes, if a consumer feels able to trust the company that makes the product, they see the product more favorably--side effects or no.

So, is this an argument for not only full disclosure, but eager disclosure? No doubt a scientist would say more research is needed. But remember the "trust deficit" that pharma leaders have lamented in recent years? Offsetting that account with some honesty deposits couldn't hurt. And the industry might avoid a bunch of liability lawsuits, if not government investigations.

- read the CNN piece

Special Reports: Top 10 Pharma Companies by Employees | Pharma's Top 11 Marketing Settlements