OTC Drugs Ads

Advertisements for prescription drugs that are now available over the counter may not give you a heads up about the drugs' potential harm and side effects.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University analyzed print and broadcast advertisements for four commonly used drugs that were heavily marketed to consumers as prescription drugs and then approved for sale over-the-counter.

The drugs included were Claritin,Prilosec, Alli and Xenical and Zyrtec.

Seventy percent of the ads mentioned potential harms when the drugs were available only by prescription.

Only 11 percent of the ads mentioned potential harms after the drugs were available over-the-counter.

Experts say that is because ads for over-the-counter drugs are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, while the Food and Drug Administration regulates prescription drugs ads.

Researchers say, the FTC has fewer requirements or specific regulations for how risks and benefits should be presented.

The findings appear in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.