FTC Regulations Could Limit Information Available to Consumers Injured by Drugs and Medical Devices
Television, print, and online advertisements related to medical device and pharmaceutical mass tort cases are common these days.
The goal of these ads is to inform and educate potential plaintiffs and the general public regarding the risks associated with certain drugs and devices and to explain the legal options available to those injured.
Now, efforts are underway by the US Chamber of Commerce and FTC to prohibit some of these ads.
The campaign, which would include public relations and legislation efforts, hopes to force the FTC into prohibiting these informational lawsuit ads. Efforts to curtail advertising were previewed last fall at the Chamber of Commerce's Legal Reform Summit, in conjunction with the release of a white paper alleging there is “mounting evidence” these ads contain misleading and exaggerated claims.
There were also accusations the ads prevent people from seeking treatment and encourage them to stop their current medications without doctors' consent. The FDA claims there have been reports from doctors stating patients saw ads about lawsuits and discontinued use of their anticoagulant medication without first seeking a medical consultation regarding their drug regimen.
Pharmaceutical executives and their attorneys are making efforts to reduce the effect of these ad campaigns because they believe they are hurting sales. Those in support of the restrictions even go so far as to say the ads are deceptive.
FTC Limiting Consumer Information
Unfortunately, the FTC's intervention would also mean consumers receive less information. Though there are some law firms that behave in a less-than-ethical manner, the majority of firms are trying to inform consumers about their risks and their options.
Law firms are one of the few entities trying to get factual information to consumers. Advertisements aren't created until claims are backed up by legitimate medical studies confirming negative side effects and/or there are a significant number of claims filed with the FTC regarding a drug or device.
The bottom line? Firms aren't making up stories about drugs and devices. They're simply sharing information that's already out there, but not widely known.
According to the American Association of Justice (AAJ), an organization that supports the interests of plaintiffs' attorneys, there is no benefit to restricting lawsuit advertisements. The AAJ issued an official statement regarding the issue stating:
“Consumers face an ever-growing, multi-billion dollar barrage of pharmaceutical advertising, which the Chamber's report fails to mention. If a consumer is harmed or killed by a prescription drug or a device, it's important that patients or their families know there are legal options to hold negligent pharmaceutical companies accountable.”
The AAJ further explained that attorney advertising is governed by state laws, all of which forbid false or misleading statements – so there is already regulation in place to protect consumers.
Consumers Have a Right to Know about the Risks Associated with Drugs and Medical Devices
What does the debate over advertising mean for those who have been injured or made ill by drugs or medical devices?
If the FTC and drug companies get their way, there will be one less avenue of information available to consumers. Anyone considering the use of a drug or medical device has a right to know the risks they face, and that they are not alone if they are injured or made ill. They also need to know what steps they can take to receive compensation if there is a problem.
The FTC, nor any other authority, should interfere with that right.
If you have questions about advertisements related to dangerous drugs or devices, or you have been injured by a drug or device, we can help. Contact Andrus Wagstaff PC to learn more.