The sentence has been part of every drug advertisement for decades - and has long since become a household word: "For risks and side effects, read the package insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist." From December 27th, advertisers and consumers will have to get used to it because the advertising notice will be changed.
Last June, the Bundestag decided to amend the Medicines Advertising Act, which stipulates the passage of medication advertising outside of specialist circles. In the future, the advice will be: “For risks and side effects, read the package leaflet and ask your doctor or pharmacy.”
The first pharmaceutical companies have already started to adapt their commercials accordingly during the transition period. During the legislative process there was criticism of the new wording from several quarters. The Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, for example, rated the new sentence structure as “bulky”.
In the draft bill from February, the Federal Ministry of Health justified the change by saying that it was intended to “take equal opportunity policy aspects into account”.
The origin of the reference lies in the 1990s, reports the “Pharmazeutische Zeitung”. At that time, drug advertising should actually be banned in general. It was then stipulated that all mandatory information from the package inserts had to be presented in advertising - hardly affordable in a commercial. At the end of the discussions there was the sentence. “For information about risks and side effects, read the package leaflet and ask your doctor or pharmacist.” It remained in this form for almost 34 years.
Editor's note: This article first appeared on December 15, 2023.
Sources: Federal Ministry of Health, “Pharmazeutische Zeitung”, DPA news agency