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US “Bad Ad” campaign leads to just five warning letters in its first year

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3821 (Published 17 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3821
  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. 1New York

A scheme to reduce false and misleading advertising by drug manufacturers is drawing praise and criticism.

In May 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research launched a “Bad Ad” programme with the goal of “encouraging health care professionals to recognize and report suspected untruthful or misleading drug promotions.”

During the first year of the programme’s operation, the number of reports received by FDA tripled from an average of 104 reports per year to 328 reports. Healthcare professionals submitted 188 reports, consumers submitted 116, and 24 came from individuals working for industry.

To date, the agency has issued five warning letters asking companies to stop making their false or misleading claims.

The drugs were advertised in direct mailings to healthcare providers, on websites, …

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