Consumer Reports: Off-label drug use ads

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Pharmaceutical companies spend billions on drug advertising each year. And a proposed change by the Food and Drug Administration could allow them to spend even more. (WLS)

Pharmaceutical companies spend billions on drug advertising each year. And a proposed change by the Food and Drug Administration could allow them to spend even more.

You've seen the ads on television, in magazines and in newspapers.

But you may not realize that drug companies today can only promote a drug for a use that's approved by the FDA.

However, drugs are prescribed all the time for uses that are not approved by the FDA. It's a common and legal practice. In fact, one out of every five prescriptions are written by doctors this way, according to a 2006 study.

Now, the FDA is considering giving drug companies the OK to advertise drugs for uses that are not approved.

"This could be confusing to consumers and our research shows most people don't even want it," said Ellen Kunes, of Consumer Reports.

Complicating the issue, a recent study shows drugs prescribed this way often lack strong scientific evidence to support a use that's not FDA approved.

"People who get a prescription from their doctor for a drug that's not approved to treat their condition may be at a higher risk of side effects and other serious problems," Kunes said.

Consumer Reports' medical advisers suggest when prescribed a new medication, ask your doctor whether it has been approved for your condition, and if not, ask why he or she recommends it.

Want to see what condition the FDA has approved your drug to treat? Go to the National Institute of Health's DailyMed website, search for the drug, then click "Indications & Usage" to see whether your condition is listed.

If you'd like your opinion to be heard on the practice of off-label prescribing and the relaxing of rules for advertising, go to www.ConsumersUnion.org/unsafedrugmarketing

This is based on the following article from ConsumerReports.org.
http://www.consumerreports.org/drugs/off-label-use-should-drugs-do-double-duty/

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2017. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
Related Topics:
healthconsumer reportsprescription drugsadvertisingFDA

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