Pay Attention! FDA to Study If Oldsters Understand TV Drug Ads | Pharma Industry Regulation |

The Food and Drug Administration wants to figure out just how well older Americans are able to comprehend the prescription drug ads they see on TV.

In an upcoming study, described in a notice posted publicly late last week, the agency will test whether Americans 60 and older understand some of the more complex information presented in the commercials they see between network news and NFL football games. They want to test whether people understand more complex ads as well as they did simpler ads — or if it is too much information for people to process.

Americans 60 and older will participate in the studies, the agency said, because they are more likely to be interested in the drug being studied and therefore more motivated to pay attention. The FDA noted that older people use more prescription drugs and watch more television than younger people.

Participants will be shown TV ads twice for a fictional medication for cataracts. They will then take a survey gauging how well they understood the information in the ad, how well they retained the information, and how they ultimately perceived the drug’s risks and benefits.

The ads will vary. Some will describe side effects more simply, for example, occurring in “10 percent or less” of patients; others will be much more specific — say, 6 percent to 10 percent. Some ads will give only a single outcome for taking the drug (52 percent improved their vision); others will offer an additional outcome (52 percent improved their vision and people were able to see on average 85 out of 100 letters in an eye chart test).