FDA Presents Its Comprehensive Recommendations for DTC Ads
(Thursday, June 29, 2023)
Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising must be truthful and non-misleading while presenting the risk and benefits of a given product in a balanced easily understandable format. Although there is extensive marketing research on the best ways to communicate drug related information to consumers, a new FDA guidance provides a review of the available information with recommendations for best practices that could be valuable for creators of such advertising material.
DTC ads for prescription drug products are a critical part of consumer education in the US. DTC ads come in all forms such as print ads, TV and radio ads, and social media postings. Extensive consumer research by the FDA and many other organizations have shown what kinds of information is better understood by the consumers. For example, quantitative comparison of the risk and efficacy of a product compared to a control group is much better understood than qualitative comparison. Absolute frequencies and percentages are better understood than the relative numbers. “Visual representations of efficacy and risk in DTC promotional communications improve consumer comprehension of numeric values by illustrating patterns, summarizing the data, and reducing the amount of mental calculations the consumer must perform to extract meaning from the quantitative information.” But different kinds of visual presentation should be used for different kinds of information. For example, comparison information is best presented by bar charts, but trends are shown best by line graphs.
The FDA guidance document provides several examples with references to the publications describing the research underlying the recommendations. These suggestions are logical and should not be surprising or onerous to implement for any developers of DTC marketing materials. Although the FDA guidance refers to prescription products, these suggestions are applicable to all products.
Dr. Mukesh Kumar
Founder & CEO, FDAMap
Linkedin: Mukesh Kumar, PhD, RAC