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Are TV commercials for prescription drugs “fake news”?

Fake news is a new term that describes articles, videos and commercials that have no basis in fact. Do TV commercials for prescription drugs fall in that category? It’s a question worth asking since so many victims have been harmed by so many of these drugs.

The anatomy of a prescription drug commercial

Most TV drug commercials show happy actors enjoying themselves without a care in the first half of the commercial. Viewers continue to see them having a good time as the narrator’s voice speeds up, listing the serious side effects – some fatal – that the drug can cause.

The video contradicts the audio. It’s a highly successful advertising technique. According to a 2015 Linked In marketing blog, aimed at teaching would-be marketers, the human brain processes “images up to 60,000 times faster than words.”

Science agrees. A book, written by three physicians and two professors for a family medicine residency training program at the White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles, urged professors who teach cultural awareness to medical students to use “short video clips,” like commercials, called “trigger films.” As the book notes, “video is more powerful than words.”

In 2015, The American Medical Association – the largest group of doctors in the United States – advocated banning TV advertising of drugs because “the ads encourage patients to seek medicine unnecessarily.” They also say it drives up drug prices.

Some drugs advertised on TV are killers

Vioxx arrived on the market in 1999 with a TV ad featuring Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill who explained how the anti-inflammatory drug helped her. Merck discovered its drug caused heart attacks and strokes but hid the facts as The New York Times reported in an investigative story in 2000. Merck set up a $4.85 million settlement fund for lawsuits brought by thousands of victims and paid a criminal fine of $321 million dollars to the U. S. Justice Department.

Xarelto, Pradaxa and Eliquis – all blood thinners that have resulted in deadly uncontrolled bleeding – are among the most recent with misleading TV commercials. So is Abilify. It can cause uncontrolled, compulsive gambling. Lawsuits have been filed against their makers.

Wayne Wright represents victims of misleading drug commercials

Wayne Wright’s 2014 Litigator Award, celebrated on CNN, is proof of his legal expertise. It’s based on winnings for clients. Less than 1% of lawyers ever qualify for the award. Victims can rest reassured that Wayne Wright is one of America’s top trial lawyers. Calls are free. No fees are due until a case is settled or won.

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