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FDA Tells 14 Companies to Stop Misleading Ads


Do you ever use Google or other search engines to look up information? Most of us do. It seems 14 major pharmaceutical companies have been using misleading ads.

The Food and Drug Administration has told these pharmaceutical companies to stop using what the FDA calls “misleading” ads on the Internet search engines. The FDA finds the ads misleading due to lack of complete information in the brief ads. The information most likely to be left out is the risk information.

The ads in question are the brief or "sponsored links" in the side bar that link to the companies Web site. Pharmaceutical companies and other interest groups pay search engine operators like Google to post these links after someone types in a related search term.

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Many of the “sponsored link” ads are for drugs that carry black box warnings. None of the risks are mentioned in the brief ads. An example is the ad for Tysabri (Biogen Idec Inc.) which says "A Multiple Sclerosis Treatment That's Different from the Others" or "Satisfied with your MS Medication or Looking for Something Different?" Tysabri carries a black box warning due to its link with a serious brain infection in several patients.

The companies receiving letters were Bayer, Biogen Idec, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cephalon, Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi-Aventis.


NY Times