FDA to gauge drug ads' impact

Facing concerns from doctors and managed care providers, the Food and Drug Administration will begin a long-planned review of the impact of TV ads for prescription drugs by the end of the year, the agency announced this week.

Many critics say the ads lead patients to demand brand-name drugs rather than generics, jacking up health care costs needlessly. The aim is to evaluate guidelines established in 1997, when the FDA loosened restrictions for TV advertising. The agency plans to conduct two separate telephone surveys, one to physicians and the other to patients who recently have visited a doctor. Comments on what should be contained in the surveys are due to the FDA May 18. - Bill McConnell