Feb 21, 2019

Drug ads may overwhelm consumers

Photo: Tom Kelley/Getty Images

Federal regulations require drug companies to include both major and minor side effects in their direct-to-consumer advertising — the risk of heart attacks as well as, say, dry mouth.

Why it matters: All of that information may be overwhelming consumers, causing them not to internalize the most significant risks, according to Scientific American.

Details: Researchers asked a group of people to read 2 print ads for Lunesta, the sleep aid. One was the actual ad, featuring 2 major side effects and 2 minor ones; the other only included the major side effects.

  • People who read the ad with more side effects rated the drug as safer, and thus more appealing, than people who only saw the major ones.
  • Researchers got the same results when they played the full radio ad for Cymbalta vs. an edited version that eliminated minor side effects.

What they found: Presenting people with a lot of information can dilute each piece of information, the researchers said — if you want people to really hear 1 thing, you shouldn't also tell them 20 other things at the same time.

  • In mock-up print ads, putting the major side effects in a bold font seemed to help people remember them better, even with minor side effects still listed in regular type.

Go deeper: Hospitals are making a lot of money on outpatient drugs

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George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."