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FTC Urges Relaxed Limits on Prescription-Drug Ads

In comments made to the Food & Drug Administration, the FTC recommended relaxed restrictions on consumer advertising for prescription drugs that will make them "easier for consumers to understand," as long as ads contain "truthful, non-misleading information."

Among the suggested changes, ads should not be forced to contain a "mechanistic balance" between risks and benefits but instead present them in a way that does not "convey a deceptive impression." Also, pharmaceutical makers should be allowed to make "truthful, non-misleading price comparisons and other types of relative cost claims."

The FTC also would permit endorsements and testimonials for prescription drugs as long as they meet commission guidelines. The FTC said warnings should direct consumers to a "more useful source of risk information" than FDA approved labeling.

The commission added that available evidence debunks notions that advertising directly to consumers has increased the sale of inappropriate drugs or led to increased drug prices.