Monday, June 12, 2006

Misleading Advertisements - Say No to AD Treatment

Advertisements of medicines can be very misleading. Nothing works as good as consulting a doctor and getting a prescription.

There is a person who had undergone sufferings after taking medicines advertised for piles without consulting a doctor. He is not alone. There are many who have gone through similar ordeals. Here, I would like to alert readers on the dangerous aspects of advertisements of medicines. The public should not become victims to such advertisements.

In this electronic age, it is impossible for any one to avoid advertisements. They influence us in one-way or the other. The advertisers design and project products in the most attractive way to influence viewers. All promotional advertisements are meant to sell their products. Misleading and unethical advertisement of medicines can be dangerous. No modern medicine is absolutely safe. Every medicine is associated with some risk or the other (side effects of medicine). The common man does not have full knowledge of the risk involved in using the medicine. The advertisers always project the benefits and not the side-effects. The risks, even if projected, are written in such small letters that they are not readable.

Advertisements of medicines and diseases are regulated by the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act. The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules also specify diseases and ailments for which no prevention or cure is available and hence cannot be advertised.

Direct-to-consumer advertisement of counter medicines may be informative. Such advertisements are permitted in other countires also. But taking India’s literacy and awareness level into consideration, such advertisements can be misleading to many as they do not often delve into details like the dosage, precautions to be taken, and adverse reactions.

For example, an asthmatic or pepticulcer patient may develop severe problems like precipitation or gastric bleeding if aspirin, a pain relief agent, is taken. Alcoholics may further damage their liver if they continue to take Paracetamol, a pain and fever reducing medicine.

Advertising prescription drugs to consumers is neither ethical nor legal. These medicines are permitted to be sold only if a doctor’s prescription is produced.

Consumers should be watchful of such advertisements. What the consumers need is information to make a better choice. They need to know both benefits and risk involved in the use of drug treatment and non-drug treatment options, in addition to cost.
Courtesy: Indian Express

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