MYTH: Direct-to-consumer advertising is educational for patients

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In this series of essays, by the Canadian Health Service Research Foundation, that explores the research evidence behind Canadian health care debates, this article looks at whether advertising drug ads are educational.

By law, Canadian advertisers are able to mention only the drug name, price and quantity. In recent years, though, manufacturers have become increasingly creative with these rules, running so-called “reminder ads.” These ads promote only the drug’s name to consumers.   The combined effect of these more creative ads in Canada and spillover advertising from American media is that some may believe that anything goes in drug advertising in this country.