POLL SHOWS GOOD REACTION TO NEW WAVE OF DTC ADS

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As the Food & Drug Administration's fall deadline for final rules on prescription drug TV advertising nears, a new study finds consumers are mostly responding positively to such ads, especially when they provide information on treatments.

One major FDA concern is whether direct-to-consumer ads provide adequate safety information and whether consumers

notice it.

The study by Market Measures, which surveyed 4,292 people by phone during June and July, found a majority of consumers (53%) rated DTC ads as providing "adequate information about risks."

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By ad medium, the survey found newspapers were rated highest (62%) for providing adequate risk information, followed by magazines (58%). Slightly less than half thought TV spots did so (49%).

Still, the FDA is not expected to make drastic changes to its August 1997 DTC TV guidelines and some industry executives said TV cannot be expected to accomplish the same task as print media can for detailing risks.

The FDA will revamp its print DTC rules later this year.

The study also showed that many prescription products have achieved awareness levels comparable to, or exceeding, over-the-counter brands.

There were eight prescription brands with total awareness of more than 50%, compared to four in the 1997 study: Pfizer's Viagra (83%), Schering-Plough Corp.'s Claritin (64%), Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories' Premarin (57%), Hoechst Marion Roussel's Allegra (56%), Eli Lilly & Co.'s Prozac (55%), Glaxo Wellcome's Valtrex (55%), Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Pravachol (52%) and Merck & Co.'s Zocor (51%).

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