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Is it worth the risk? When cancer is a medication side effect

First Aired: May 10, 2015

Did you know? Only the United States and New Zealand permit direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs!

We all see the television advertisements for a vast array of prescription drugs (it’s a $4.8 billion business, after all!), each of which must include information about side effects. And some of those side effects include various types of cancer. As scary as that is, it’s important that you not only know what risks exist but also how likely those risks are. The FDA is considering some changes for the language in print advertisements that advertise pharmaceutical drugs directly to consumers to reduce confusing and technical jargon and reduce unnecessary fear of very rare side effects.

How useful are those ads? A report by the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research indicates that doctors find patients to be more compliant in taking prescribed medications, but doctors also expressed concern that patients request unneeded medications when there may be tried and true non-prescription options.

On this program, we talk about some of the questions and problems that come with direct to consumer ads and how to gauge the significance of listed side effects.

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