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FTC Wants Summaries on Medical-Device Ads

In a staff report released Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission said broadcast ads for pacemakers, hearing aids and other corrective medical devices should carry the same kinds of brief
informational summaries as do those for prescription drugs.

Those summaries are the kickers at the end of the commercials that tell you, for instance, that the side effects of a medication for stomach upset is an upset stomach, or that an itchy rash is one possible side effect of a drug to treat poison ivy.

The FTC was essentially agreeing with a Food and Drug Administration proposal, released for comment in February, that the information on effectiveness, side effects, contra-indications and the like should be extended to medical device ads.

The FDA's proposal, said the FTC, "is likely to lead to increased advertising for restricted medical devices, thereby benefiting consumers and competition."

In what has always seemed a curious caveat, the FTC said that the comments are those of bureau staffers, and not necessarily of the commission, though the commission voted 5 to zip to authorize the comments.