Analysis Questions Quality of Direct-to-Consumer Ads

Advertising of drugs for urological conditions lacks research data to support claims
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) for urological medications lacks research data or references to substantiate the claims they make, pointing to room for improvement in the information offered by such advertisements, according to an analysis published in the May issue of Urology.

Craig Folsom, of the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues screened three consecutive issues of 26 popular magazines for urology-related DTCA.

The researchers found eight unique examples of DTCA in four magazines: Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated and Golf Digest. The advertisements were all disease-specific, and targeted patients with incontinence (three ads), symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (three), or erectile dysfunction (two). The advertisements made a median of three claims each. None offered research data in the form of tables or figures, and none cited peer-reviewed publications. The advertisements commonly addressed symptom control and lifestyle improvement, but none addressed drug safety.

"None of the advertisement claims identified in this study were supported by research data, thereby questioning whether they can be considered 'evidence-based,' as recommended by the ethical code of International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations. There seems to be significant room for improvement in the quality of information provided by urological advertisements," the authors conclude.

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