According to the Washington Post,For months, Facebook has cancelled personal injury ads, which contain misleading information about drugs designed to prevent the spread of HIV, as a result of strong protests from LGBTQ groups such as GLAAD.Encouraging people at risk of HIV infection to take these drugs is a key strategy in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus - so the misinformation surrounding the drug is particularly worrying. But for years, doctors and public health experts worried about the risk of personal injury lawyers offering similar ads, but there was no public outcry.
In this case, the Facebook advertisement was produced by a personal injury lawyer who sued the pharmaceutical company that made the drug PrEP (" pre-exposure prophylaxis "). The advertisement claimed that the drug was harmful. Advocates warn that these ads keep patients away from preventive drugs, which the centers for disease prevention believe are very effective.
Studies have shown that these types of personal injury advertisements make people more likely to believe that a drug or medical device is at risk and may make people less likely to decide to prescribe a particular drug. In 2017, the judicial committee of the house of Representatives held a hearing on advertising practices; in 2016, the American Medical Association called for advertisements to publish warnings that patients should talk to doctors about their concerns.
But the patient had not been mobilized to address the problem. "It's very rare," said Lars Noah, a law professor at the University of Florida. Never before has the patient activist community become alarmed. This may be because, until then, advertising has generally not targeted drugs that are important to public health, such as PrEP. "The drugs advertised for this point are usually on the market, but have no high therapeutic value," he said.
Tippett said the response to the ads also clearly focused on the patient's injury. "In the past, trying to do something about these ads was seen as trying to help pharmaceutical companies," she said. This is the first truly obvious example of consumer advocacy as a response. " She said the launch of these ads on Facebook raises other concerns that TV ads don't have: they can target specific groups of people, which could increase their effectiveness. Just like on TV, it's not clear in many cases that advertising is sponsored by lawyers. "Generally, the information contained in this information is not enough to help people activate the natural defense mechanism of this kind of information," she said
Jesse king, an associate professor of marketing at Weber State University, said Facebook and other social media platforms were the next wave of drug harm ads. "I think lawyers have been trying for some time to figure out how to put these ads online," he said. I hear that their use is increasing. "
However, social media may also make it easier for communities to mobilize their response to these specific ads, Tippett said. "No matter who the sponsor is, you can trace it, and Facebook has an ad database. For TV, none of this is available. In some ways, there is more potential for accountability because of the written record. "
On social media, groups can also place anti ads to counteract drug injury advertising messages. She said research shows that anti publicity may help minimize or mitigate the impact of advertising on drug risk perception.
Noah said the strong protests and subsequent responses to the prep ads did not necessarily indicate a shift in the way platforms, consumers and lawyers deal with drug harm ads. This may be an anomaly: Lawyers' ads target a highly effective drug and elicit a response from a particularly vocal community. He is not optimistic that it will lead to a wide range of changes. "But it would be great if this led to lawyers looking more closely at the whole category of drug advertising," he said