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WASHINGTON — Government regulators may soon decide whether to crack down on distracting visuals in television drug commercials or require subtitles about side effects, a regulation that’s been 13 years in the making.

White House budget experts are reviewing changes to the regulation of broadcast drug advertisements that the Food and Drug Administration proposed in 2010, according to the Office of Management and Budget website. That proposal aimed to make commercials present drug risks in a manner that consumers notice and understand.


Drug ads have long been controversial. Aside from New Zealand, the United States is the only country that allows drugmakers to advertise to consumers. Critics of drug ads say they pose consumer safety concerns by bombarding the public with promotions that distract viewers from potential side effects. Drug companies say commercials spark conversations between patients and doctors that promote clinically beneficial prescribing.

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