Study Finds Most Drug Commercials Misleading

Scientific American:

“Don’t Rasp Your Throat With Harsh Irritants, Reach for a LUCKY instead,” reads one Lucky Strike Cigarettes ad from the 1930s. It’s almost beyond belief today that a cigarette company could get away with an ad touting its product as beneficial for the throat, but according to a new study, the days of false and misleading commercials are far from over.

Researchers at Dartmouth College, in N.H., and the University of Wisconsin-Madison decided to check up on what drug companies say in their U.S. TV commercials. Their findings suggest a frequent disregard for the truth. Sixty percent of prescription drug ads and 80 percent of over the counter drug ads were found to be misleading or false.

Ziv Carmon, a professor of marketing at Insead business school in Singapore is surprised by Faerber’s findings, “I would expect firms to be careful when it comes to what they say, especially when it comes to products like pharmaceuticals,” he wrote in an email.

Carmon’s own research investigates consumer attitudes towards drug commercials. Somewhat ironically, his most recent study, published in the journal Psychological Science, indicates that if drug companies are more upfront about side effects it helps their sales. He compared consumer perception of an ad that included a truthful warning versus the same ad, but omitting the warning. He found that initially, the reaction to ads with warnings was detrimental to the drug’s appeal.

Read the whole story: Scientific American

 

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