Be Smart About Prescription Drug Advertising: A Guide for Consumers

 


Introduction

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of a wide range of products, including human prescription drugs. We also advance public health by helping people get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines appropriately and improve their health.


 FDA Authority Over Advertising

We serve the public health and welfare in many ways. One way is overseeing the approval and marketing of prescription drugs. Our authority is based on a number of federal laws, including the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Among other areas, this law specifically addresses prescription drug advertising. This law requires that advertisements for prescription drugs be accurate and not misleading.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is a relatively new area of prescription drug promotion. No federal law has ever banned DTC advertising. Until the mid-1980s, drug companies gave information about prescription drugs only to doctors and