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Feds crack down on personal injury lawsuit advertisements

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Posted at 3:24 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 15:25:41-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on personal injury lawsuit advertisements that can trick consumers into thinking their medications have been recalled for safety reasons.

The FTC sent letters to seven law firms and companies, expressing concerns that their television advertisements for personal injury lawsuits against drug manufacturers may be deceptive or unfair under the FTC Act.

The feds are not publicly identifying who received the letters.

The Federal Trade Commission is concerned the lawsuit ads may misrepresent the risks associated with certain pharmaceuticals and could leave consumers with the false impression that their physician-prescribed medication has been recalled.

According to the letters, some of the lawsuit advertisements may make deceptive or unsubstantiated claims about the risks of taking blood thinners and drugs for diabetes, acid reflux, and high blood pressure.

Advertisers must have competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate their claims about these purported risks, according to the FTC.

The FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System contains reports of consumers who saw lawsuit ads about the prescription drugs they were taking, discontinued those medications, and suffered adverse consequences as a result, records show.

“The letters say that lawsuit ads that cause, or are likely to cause, viewers to discontinue their medications might constitute an unfair act or practice,” according to the FTC. “To prevent consumer injury, the letters suggest that lawsuit ads may need to include clear and prominent audio and visual disclosures stating that consumers should not stop taking their medications without first consulting their doctors. The letters also highlight lawsuit ads that open with sensational warnings or alerts, which may initially mislead consumers into thinking they are watching a government-sanctioned medical alert or public service announcement.”

Advertisements promoting goods or services should be identifiable as advertising from the beginning, according to the FTC.

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