'Flip the ad' to see proper risk balance, says FDA

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Drug marketers continue to skimp on product risks in their ads, and would do well to "flip the ad," reversing the benefit-to-risk balance in order to get the FDA's point on "fair balance." That was the dual message presented at the Drug Information Association's recent annual meeting in Atlanta by two speakers from the agency's DDMAC.

Deploring the rise of risk minimization in ads, DDMAC director Tom Abrams said the trend has become his office's top priority. He said he personally believes that drug marketers lack attention to risk information because they are so focused on the benefits side.

“There are many good people and much of their time in industry is spent trying to develop the marketing strategy and refining the benefit messages so that they get across to the recipients who promote their drugs,” Abrams told the conference.

“I think we need to put some of this expertise and effort in risk presentation,” he said.

Flipping the ad to reverse its placement of benefit and risk information was the suggestion of  Kathryn Aikin, DDMAC social scientist, at a different DIA session. “Are you still happy with the way the benefit information is presented (after flipping the ad)?” Aikin asked. “If not, you should reconsider how you're handling the risk information.”

Abrams also told the meeting that user fees for TV ad reviews would only improve review promptness, not affect the nature of the DDMAC response or guarantee not enforcement action.

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