TV Ads Attack Major Drug Companies

Mass-tort attorneys have recently increased TV ads that attack certain major drug manufacturers, with the hope of leading to large lawsuits against many drug corporations.  The ads produced by attorneys warn viewers of serious and sometimes fatal consequences of many common drugs or products, including talcum powder that is at the center of a recent court battle against Johnson & Johnson.  That involves four lawsuits brought by women who claimed the company's baby powder gave them ovarian cancer.  The company won one and lost the other three of these cases.  Attorneys in St. Louis have run numerous ads regarding talcum powder and viewers surveyed said they had a negative view of talcum powder because of the ads. One of the other most common subjects of these recent attorney ads is the drug Xarelto, a blood thinner manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. A representative speaking for the company says that the ads scare patients into stopping their medication abruptly without talking to their doctors, and can lead to severe consequences including death.  The President of the American Bar Association, however, says that attorneys have a First Amendment right to advertise and advise the public of potential side effects of drugs.  Attorney ads must conform to individual state bar association advertising rules requiring ads to be honest and not fraudulent.  The Federal Trade Commission would be authoritative on the legality of these ads, and it has never pursued any action against mass-tort attorney ads that target drug companies.

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