FDA Finds Public Easily Misled by Deceptive Drug Ads

August 25, 2021

The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) has found through its own original research that it’s disturbingly easy to fool consumers and even doctors with false or deceptive drug advertising.

As an experiment, OPDP researchers constructed mock pharmaceutical websites that contained information about efficacy and risks for two fictitious drugs, one described as treating chronic pain and one as treating obesity, with varying false or deceptive claims, according to a post on the agency’s website.

The results were concerning. More than one-third of consumers and a quarter of physicians exposed to websites with five deceptive claims and tactics “indicated that no inaccuracies were present,” the OPDP found. And half of the physicians who saw websites with explicitly false information and three-quarters of those who saw implicitly misleading information “indicated that the promotions contained no inaccuracies.”

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