On Tuesday May 11, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the "Bad Ad" program. The FDA's website states that this initiative is designed to educate care providers about their role in ensuring that prescription drug advertising is truthful, and not misrepresented. Responsible for coordinating the program, the FDA's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) hopes for an intensive educational outreach effort.
"The Bad Ad Program will help health care providers recognize misleading prescription drug promotion and provide them with an easy way to report this activity to the agency," said Thomas Abrams, director of DDMAC.
Due to the complexity of such a program, it will be implemented in three phases. Phase one is dedicated to engaging health-care providers and medical societies, by passing out educational information at medical conferences. Phases two and phase three will simply expand the FDA's outreach efforts, while improving the educational materials they passed out during phase one.
When sponsoring drug companies are found using misleading materials, the FDA issues warning letters, stating that the ads must be revised. Due to the volume of submissions, these warning letters aren't sent until months after the misleading ad is released and although these efforts are effective, the agency also has a limited ability to monitor promotional activities that may be going on behind doors.
Many critics of the pharmaceutical industry say that TV drug advertisements are so glamorized, that they focus attention on the benefits and not on the risks of a particular drug. Hopefully the "Bad Ad" Program will be a success, as it educates healthcare providers on the possible dangers of drug advertising.