(NewsTarget) The amount of television advertising money that pharmaceutical companies spend has doubled in recent years. Studies show that viewers often see a medicinal product and bring up what they saw to their doctors. However, the tone of the advertisements today often are misleading and exaggerate the health benefits of taking the drug, according to a recent report by the Annals of Family Medicine.
“When the character is then shown taking the drug, he then magically regains complete control of his life,” UCLA psychologist Dominick Frosch, who headed the study, noted in his research.
In a recent lawsuit filed against Pfizer about advertisements for its Viagra pill, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation argues that the impotency drug is being marketed today as a sexual enhancer to be used by men who may not be impotent.
When Viagra first advertised in the 1990s, its advertising featured former Sen. Bob Dole, then in his 70s, talking about erectile dysfunction.
“Television advertisements for pharmaceuticals are essentially fairy tales,” said consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of “Natural Health Solutions.”
“They exaggerate benefits, minimize drug risks and use healthy-looking actors to imply a miracle cure effect that pharmaceuticals simply do not produce. These ads are pure promotional imprinting and have nothing to do with the education of patients,” Adams said.
“If the FDA was not a criminal organization acting on behalf of Big Pharma, it would have never legalized television drug ads in the first place,” he added.
While the Federal Communications Commission regulates advertising, the FDA is involved in the regulation of pharmaceutical advertising. It was granted that authority in 1962.
Dr. David Kessler, who headed the FDA for seven years under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, opposes pharmaceutical advertising.
“We tend to forget pharmaceuticals are powerful agents, not just any commodity,” Kessler told NPR. “Advertising them based on their emotional appeal is something that has great risks.”
According to the U.S. General Accounting Office a subdivision of Congress — pharmaceutical companies spent $2.7 billion in mass media advertising in 2001. Four years later, the pharmaceutical industry spent $8.4 billion a more than $5 billion increase according to 2005 figures from Advertising Age magazine. The industry ranked as the fourth largest advertiser in the mass media for that year, the magazine reported.