FDA warns against ‘rush-reading’ of advert endorsements

Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has expressed concern over the ‘rush reading’ of its advertisement endorsement tagline – ‘This advert has been vetted and approved by the FDA’ – by some companies.

According to the FDA, even though it seems not to be widespread, notices have been sent to the few companies which ‘rush-read’ the tagline to desist from the act before it unfortunately becomes a norm in the media landscape, as it constitutes an infraction.

Head of Communication at the FDA, James Lartey, in an interview with the B&FT said the endorsement is a symbol of credibility attached to the product by the FDA, and must be treated with the uttermost regard as it serves as an assurance to the public that the product is safe. A rush-reading might therefore amount to a trivialisation of the endorsement.

“Yes, we have noticed. Personally, I have also heard an advert in which the FDA endorsement was rushed at the end. When it happens that way, we have an advert monitoring team whose jobs it is to monitor adverts and ensure that all products needing it to get clearance from the FDA before they are advertised do so.

“This team is also tasked to record infractions such as the rush-reading of advertisement endorsement by the FDA. When infractions like rush-reading is identified, the company running the advert is alerted and expected to correct it – because that endorsement means a great deal to the public,” Mr. Lartey told the B&FT.

According to him, from its preliminary investigation the FDA realised that the adverts reported to have ‘rush-read’ endorsement did come for approval from the FDA but submitted a cleaner version of the advert, necessitating issuance of the approval.  But some companies, due to advertisement time-charges, hasten reading the FDA endorsement so as not to incur extra charges due to the advert’s duration.

The FDA says it wants to draw the attention of companies and the public that a rush-reading of its endorsement is a minor infraction, but must be stopped so as not to attract sanctions. “We are concerned about the development, which is why we continue to alert them that the right thing must be done,” Mr. Lartey intimated.

He added that the FDA will also welcome reports of ‘rush-reading’ adverts, as it may not be able to monitor all media houses across the country at the same time due its personnel challenge.

The FDA however alerted companies that they should ensure all products that need to be registered, vetted and approved by the FDA do so before advertisements and sales are rolled out do so. “We would ask that everybody wanting to advertise any product falling in the FDA’s jurisdiction should ensure, as stated in the Public Health Act, such a product and advert has been given an approval by the FDA. Let me also add that you have no right to advertise your product if it has not been approved by the FDA,” Mr. Lartey said.

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