October 19, 2007

Contact: Mark Snyder (617) 275-2931,

Prescription Access Litigation and 26 Consumer Groups Issue Statement on Proposed FDA Study of Prescription Drug Ads

Criticizes Lack of FDA enforcement on drug ads, Calls for Changes to FDA’s Proposed Study BOSTON, MA – Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) and 26 organizations in the PAL coalition today called for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to increase its enforcement against deceptive Direct-to-Consumer Advertisements (DTCA) of prescription drugs. PAL’s call was part of public comments the group issued to the FDA concerning a study the FDA proposes to do concerning drug ads.

“FDA enforcement against deceptive drug ads has fallen to the lowest level in ten years, despite the explosion of such ads,” said Alex Sugerman-Brozan, director of Prescription Access Litigation. “While we welcome the FDA’s decision to study how drug ads affect consumers, no study will make any difference if the FDA doesn’t step up enforcement.”

PAL and 26 of its coalition members submitted their comments in response to the FDA’s August 22, 2007 request for public comment on a proposed study to determine how the “visuals” that appear in drug ads, while the drug’s risks and side effects are being read, affect consumers’ understanding of that information. PAL’s comments proposed a number of changes to improve the study, including allowing several types of consumers who are currently excluded from the study to participate, such as consumers under 40 and those whose first language is not English . PAL also recommended that the FDA conduct further studies, such as on the effects of pacing, placement of text, repetition, images and music on how consumers understand information in drug ads.

“As these ads get more complex, the FDA needs to study whether they are preventing consumers from understanding important information about the drug’s safety, usage and side effects,” added Sugerman-Brozan. “These are not ads for fabric softener or breakfast cereal – they’re for medical treatments, and need to be treated with the seriousness that deserves.”

PAL has long criticized runaway drug advertising. In November 2005, PAL submitted testimony to the FDA, calling for much more stringent regulation of such ads (available here) For the past three years, PAL has given out its annual “Bitter Pill Awards: Exposing Drug Company Manipulation of Consumers,” ( tongue-in-cheek awards calling attention to some of the most egregious and outrageous drug ad campaigns.

The full text of PAL’s comments on the proposed study are available at

The 26 organizations joining PAL in these comments are:

• AFSCME (American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees) • AFSCME District Council 37 Health & Security Plan (NY) • Alliance for Retired Americans • Annie Appleseed Project (FL) • Breast Cancer Action (CA) • Brooklyn-Wide Interagency Council of the Aging, Inc. (NY) • Center for Medical Consumers (NY) • Central New York Citizens in Action Inc. (NY) • Citizen Action of New York (NY) • Congress of California Seniors (CA) • Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CT) • Consumers for Affordable Health Care (ME) • Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (FL) • Florida CHAIN (FL) • Government Accountability Project (DC) • Health & Welfare Trust Fund IUOE Local 877 and 70 (MA) • Health Care For All (MA) • Joint Public Affairs Committee for Older Adults (JPAC) (NY) • Minnesota Senior Federation (MN) • North Carolina Fair Share (NC) • Patients not Patents (DC) • Progressive Research And Action Center (NY) • Sergeants Benevolent Association (NY) • TeamstersCare (MA) • Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio (OH) • WIN Senior Action Coalition (WI)


About Prescription Access Litigation Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) ( works to challenge illegal pharmaceutical industry tactics that increase the cost and improper usage of prescription drugs, using class action litigation and public education. PAL is a national coalition of more than 130 organizations, including consumers, seniors, heath care, labor, legal services, women’s health and human services groups in 36 states and the District of Columbia. PAL is a project of Community Catalyst, a national non-profit advocacy organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system. PAL publishes the PAL Blog at