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Be a smart TV drug ad watcher

Oct. 29, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

For 16 hours a year (nine times a day for the average viewer) friendly voices come through the TV promising that a brand-name medicine can cure what ails you. That's the estimated onslaught of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising on U.S. television. (In Canada, ads can mention either the brand or the indication, but not both.)

Now a new report sounds a consumer alert: While 43 percent of Rx ad claims are objectively true (for nonprescription medicines it was only 23 percent), 55 percent are potentially misleading and 2 percent are false. So how can you get the benefits you need from medications without falling for the hype? Here are three tips.

1. When drug ads come on TV, be skeptical. Ask yourself why it is always rugged men driving big trucks who have ED? And why is it always dreamy-eyed women who look like they could spin their own wool who are fighting depression? If you take a second look, you'll be able to differentiate between the pitch and the substance.

2. Before you ask your doc for a medication you've seen on TV, or whenever you get a new prescription, read the prescribing information (it's on the website and in the package). You'll discover usage; warning and precautions; info on clinical studies; and much more.

3. Then ask your doctor how the med will affect YOU; what's the goal and the risk of taking it; and are there alternative medications that can achieve the same result?

Together, make an informed decision about what meds you take.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.

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