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Bad Ad Program: FDA Aims to Keep Drug Promotion Truthful


While these efforts are effective, FDA’s ability to monitor promotional activities that occur in settings such as doctors’ offices, local dinner programs, and promotional speaker programs is limited.

“Companies send us their sales aids—the booklets and campaign materials for their drug that the reps are supposed to use in the field when they talk with doctors—and we review those materials,” says Dean. “But we have limited access to the promotional activities in these settings. That’s why we’re asking health care professionals to partner with us in our efforts to stop misleading prescription drug promotion.”

Recognizing and Reporting

Through the Bad Ad Program, FDA is asking health care professionals to recognize and report.

  • Recognize: Be aware of the many drug advertisements and promotions that they see every day and learn how to distinguish misleading or illegal information.
  • Report: Help FDA stop violations by reporting activities and messages that may be false or misleading.

FDA will evaluate all the reports it receives. If FDA finds any violations of the regulations, it will take action to stop the misleading promotions.

FDA plans to conduct the Bad Ad Program in three phases. In phase 1, FDA will exhibit the program at medical conferences and partner with medical societies to distribute educational materials. Eight major medical conferences are on FDA’s schedule from May through September 2010. In phases 2 and 3, FDA will expand its collaborative efforts and update its educational materials.

Consumer Reporting

The Bad Ad Program is aimed at health care professionals. FDA has another program to educate consumers about what is and isn’t appropriate in prescription drug advertising aimed at them. (See FDA’s Online Guide for Consumers.)

If you think that a prescription drug ad violates the law by being false, misleading, or lacking in "fair balance," contact FDA's DDMAC at 301-796-1200, or submit your complaint in writing to DDMAC at

Food and Drug Administration
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications
5901-B Ammendale Road
Beltsville, MD 20705-1266


For more information about topics for your health, visit the FDA Consumer Information Center (  

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