Drug Ads Just Got Harder to Swallow

"Pharmaceutical advertising has exploded over the past decade to become the 10th-largest advertising category in the U.S. ... Last year, expenditures for prescription-drug ads jumped 24% to $3.21 billion." After Merck recalled its arthritis and pain medicine Vioxx, direct-to-consumer drug advertising is facing renewed scrutiny. "Advertising and promotions played a major role in making people think Vioxx was safer and more effective than it is," said Public Citizen's Health Research Group director. "If we see product liability emanating from Merck's decision ... it will ... encourage drug companies to disclose the maximum amount of a drug's risks in their advertising," said former FDA associate commissioner Wayne Pines.