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FDA Says Many Prescription Drug Ads Are Deceptive

The US Food and Drug Administration regularly sends out citation letters to many drug companies for overstating the effects of their drugs in advertising. Tom Abrams, the chief watchdog at the Food and Drug Administration for deceptive advertising, says some ads stretch the truth with overstated claims of effectiveness and understated descriptions of side effects. This report was aired on January 3, 2001 by ABC News.

According to the report, every year, the FDA sends about 100 letters to drug companies demanding changes in television commercials, magazine ads and other promotional materials. Many companies are repeat offenders and continue to use deceptive advertising. Some examples include the allergy drug Claritin. According to the FDA the makers of this drug are repeat offenders. Since 1997, the manufacturers have been told 10 times to change their advertisements. Additionally, makers of two other allergy drugs, Flonase and Flovent have been cited 12 times for commercials the FDA claimed were misleading.

Dr. Sharon Levine of RX Alliance says, "This is intentionally misleading, the drug companies are trying to suggest they can deliver more than they do." Amazingly, the ABC story noted that the FDA has never taken a company to court. They noted that most offenders simply change their advertisements and come up with another sales approach.

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