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Medical News & Perspectives
January 27, 2010

FDA Weighs Limits for Online Ads

JAMA. 2010;303(4):311-313. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1961

As makers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices experiment with ways to market their products online, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering how to apply existing regulations for direct-to-consumer drug or device advertising to emerging media such as social networking sites and blogs.

During a November FDA hearing on the issue, online marketers, Internet companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers argued in favor of loosening rules to allow makers of medical devices and drugs to use space-limited online media such as sponsored search-engine advertisements. Consumer advocates, however, urged the agency to hold the line on its standards, and maybe even toughen them, noting negative effects of direct-to-consumer marketing that have been documented over the past decade after the agency issued guidance that led to a flood of television advertisements.

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