What if the advert that ‘has been vetted and approved by FDA’ hasn’t been vetted and approved by FDA?

Group of medicine
Group of medicine

I have personally dealt with the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), and I can say on authority that it’s the only government institution not harbouring corruption. I was assisted through the procedures to have a medical device registered.

I also sent my advertising materials for them to be vetted and approved. Those days, I was not required to remind people that the advert has been vetted and approved by the FDA, but I had to present a document issued by the authority indicating that the advert has been approved. So radio and TV stations I visited requested for this letter before airing my commercials.

In the past year, commercials on food and drugs end with the message “this advert has been vetted and approved by the FDA”. I have been asking myself why the FDA took this approach, but whatever the case is, there are better approaches.

The only right side of the message in commercials is that it boosts consumers’ confidence in the product. Once the consumers are told that the FDA has approved the said product for sale, they buy with confidence. As this is in the advantage of the product producer or trader, it can cause serious problems for the FDA. So is FDA recommending the product by means of reminding consumers that the said advert has been vetted and approved by them? If the advert has passed through checks to receive such endorsement, then it means the FDA can be held liable for any harm the product causes.

Running radio and TV commercials can be very expensive and each second counts. The about 5 seconds used to say “This advert has been vetted and approved by the FDA” on TV costs the businessman not less than GHS500 during peak hours. Owners of these products are forced to cut their advertising message to make room for the FDA’s signature. Why punish the businessman this way for not wrong done?

What if an advert which hasn’t been vetted and approved by the FDA has the message? Who should be held liable for any harm the product causes? FDA, of course. Consumers have no means to determine if an advert has been cleared by the FDA to be aired unless maybe the authority expects the public to conjure magic to know which ones have been cleared by the FDA.

FDA probably introduced this to prompt the public, radio, TV stations and other advertising channels that they have approved such adverts. Because anyone can add such message to an advert, coupled with the inconvenience it causes to the businessmen, enforcement of the previous laws was the best option. Previously, product owners were issued with a document indicating that the advert has been vetted and approved. Advertising channels then air the adverts after seeing this document. If the FDA finds out that an unapproved advert has bee aired, both the product owner and media company running the advert are fined. So these were the laws that had to be enforced. Today, a radio or TV station can’t be blamed for running ads for an unapproved commercial with the FDA signature message.

Since the FDA signature message boosts consumers confidence, it puts consumers at risk for consuming products that haven’t been approved by the FDA but have their adverts claiming so, and FDA would be held liable in such situations. Let’s go back and enforce the old laws.

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