Drug Ads Don’t Meet FDA Guidelines

A new study shows that most pharmaceutical advertisements in industry journals don’t meet the FDA guidelines. According to the study as reported in the LA Times, “Only about 18% of the ads complied with all 20 FDA guidelines and about 58% didn’t calculate serious risks of the drugs, including death.
About 49% of the ads may not have adhered to at least one FDA-ordered item and about 33% might not have complied because of incomplete information. About 48% didn’t have references that could be confirmed and almost 29% couldn’t adequately quantify effectiveness.”
Now, what does that tell us? I’d bet that the same holds true for medical device ads and marketing materials as well. While we can bemoan the industries’ lack of compliance with federally mandated guidelines, such complaining is ultimately useless and benefits no one. The real issue is that most pharmaceutical and medical device firms aren’t afraid of skirting FDA regulations. They know that the benefits far outweigh the risks when they decide to market their products. Unfortunately, the FDA is a paper tiger that has no real regulatory clout. It’s not completely the agency’s fault either. The federal government has never properly funded the FDA and so we’re left with companies that would rather put profits over the welfare of ordinary people. If you don’t believe that, please tell me why the United States is one of the few developed countries in the world that has no medical device registry system by which implanted medical devices are tracked and monitored? The FDA can only do so much and must work within constrictive budgetary guidelines. In the end, such political decisions put consumers at risk while allowing large pharmaceutical and medical device companies flaunt the rules with impunity.