The Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) is the office that investigates issues of relevance to direct-to-consumer and professional promotional prescription drug materials.
Product claim ads are the only type of ads that name a drug and discuss its benefits and risks. However, these ads must not be false or misleading in any way. We encourage companies to use understandable language throughout product claim ads that are directed to consumers. All product claim ads, regardless of the media in which they appear, must include certain key components within the main part of the ad: 1. The name of the drug (brand and generic) 2. At least one FDA-approved use for the drug 3. The most significant risks of the drug. Product claim ads must present the benefits and risks of a prescription drug in a balanced fashion.
When done properly, help-seeking ads are not considered to be drug ads. Therefore, we do not regulate true help-seeking ads, but the FTC does regulate them. Help-seeking ads describe a disease or condition but do not recommend or suggest a specific drug treatment. Some examples of diseases or conditions discussed in help-seeking ads include allergies, asthma, erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. The ads encourage people with these symptoms to talk to their doctor.
Reminder ads are short ads that typically provide the name of a drug, but not the drug's uses. A reminder ad does not have to contain risk information about the drug because the ad does not say what the drug does or how well it works. Unlike product claim ads, reminder ads cannot suggest, in either words or pictures, anything about the drug's benefits or risks. For example, a reminder ad for a drug that helps treat asthma should not include a drawing of a pair of lungs, because this implies what the drug does. Reminder ads are not allowed for certain prescription drugs with serious risks. Drugs with serious risks have a special warning, often called a "boxed warning," in the drug's FDA-approved prescribing information. Because of their seriousness, the risks must be included in all ads for these drugs.