"This is a medical alert for a bad drug." So begin countless "bad drug" commercials, frequent occurrences on television, radio and social media.
Driven by attorneys who want to profit from class-action lawsuits, these ads perpetuate misinformation about FDA-approved medications. Their "health warnings" have the appearance of being government-sponsored public safety announcements. They can drive viewers, particularly senior citizens, to abruptly discontinue the life-saving medications prescribed by their physicians.
The Partnership to Protect Patient Health (PPPH) raises awareness about the risk these "bad drug" ads pose for patients' health. PPPH supports patient safety and advocates for responsible practices that keep health care decisions where they belong -- between patients and their doctors.
The Partnership to Protect Patient Health is a coalition of diverse stakeholders, including patients, health care providers, researchers and caregivers, that raises awareness among policymakers and the media about the implications of “bad drug” commercials. The organization aims to protect the relationship between the patient and his or her health care provider by:
- Ensuring patient health and safety are top priorities,
- Facilitating a dialogue about how misleading drug-injury advertising puts patient safety at risk by circumventing the critical relationship between doctor and patient,
- Supporting the education of patients, health care providers, policymakers and other stakeholders, and
- Encouraging patients to consult their health care providers with questions or concerns about their prescribed medications.
Decisions about one’s course of treatment belong between a patient and his or her health care provider. However, an increase in television, radio and internet advertisements from law firms and aggregators, who bundle and sell patients’ information, are increasingly putting this fundamental relationship at serious risk.
Drug-injury ads, which solicit patients to call the toll-free number, often masquerade as “medical alerts” or public service announcements warning patients about medical complications and potential injuries, even death, that their medicine could cause. More than $149 million was spent on these ads in 2016. While these commercials are lucrative for law firms and aggregators, they can be dangerous for patients. Research has found these ads can frighten patients into abandoning critical life-saving medications without first consulting their health care provider. This can upset a patient’s course of treatment, trigger re-emerging symptoms, lead to emergency care, or even cause death.
In 2017, the American Medical Association adopted a resolution calling for legislative or regulatory requirement to ensure ethical attorney advertising. Patient advocates also support increasing transparency and adding warning language that discloses there is risk associated with discontinuing medication before speaking with a qualified medical professional.
Drug-injury lawsuit ads on television, radio and social media have increased by more than 60 percent since 2008.
These ads endanger patient health and undermine informed medical decision-making.
Drug-injury advertisements on television, radio and social media have increased by more than 60 percent since 2008, putting patients’ lives at risk across the U.S. Driven by law firms and aggregators, these commercials feature sensationalized claims that go unchecked due to a lack of proper oversight, leading patients who take critically important medications to doubt or discontinue their treatment regimen without consulting their physician.
The advertisements are all over television.
“This is a medical alert for a bad drug,” an authoritative voice says. Names of prescription medications flash in red. The warning continues, rattling off cringe-worthy medical complications and injuries, “even death.” On screen appears a non-responsive patient being whisked away in an ambulance. The images fade into a telephone number and directions to “Call now for a free confidential consultation.”
Was that an advertisement or a public service announcement? Was it on behalf of the government? It’s often hard to tell.
The truth is that these drug-injury advertisements perpetuate misinformation about FDA-approved medications.
PPPH surveyed 500 medical providers and 800 patients with diagnosed conditions to understand their perspectives on the often-misleading practice and how it influences their decision-making. One-third (34 percent) of patients said they’ve viewed their medication less favorably due to negative advertising they’ve viewed; one-quarter of patients who saw these ads completely stopped treatment without consulting their physician.
More than half of health care providers (58 percent) have reported they had a patient stop taking a prescribed, FDA-approved medication without consultation after seeing advertising related to drug injury lawsuits.
Click HERE to view the survey results.
The public is inundated with advertisements on television and the internet soliciting them to file lawsuits. These ads often present prescription drugs and medical devices as dangerous. In dire terms, the ads exaggerate the risks of products that remain approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe and effective and that doctors prescribe to help their patients. While the purpose of such ads may be to inform injured people of their legal rights, misleading information frightens viewers into stopping their medications and may deter others from seeking treatment. Although these ads pose a public health threat, federal and state authorities have not acted.
The Partnership to Protect Patient Health is a collaboration between health care providers and patient advocates.
To learn more about the Partnership to Protect Patient Health or for more information about having your organization join, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.