January 15, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Full page JAMA ad from FDA warns docs on foreign drugs

I opened the most recent edition of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and found a striking full-page ad from the FDA.

It’s unclear if this is the first ever such advertisement. I have been unable to find a similar one on the Internet at least. Has anyone seen such ads before?


The JAMA ad sternly warned docs on the dangers of the use of foreign drugs. In fact it threatens potential criminal charges if providers enable patients to use foreign non-FDA approved drugs.

I can see both sides on this issue.

On the one hand, medicines in the US are far too expensive and many patients cannot afford them. In fact, a significant number of patients do not take the proper doses of medicines because they are too expensive. This clearly has substantial potential for negative health consequences.

On the other hand, foreign medicines could in principle be dangerous to consumers as they could contain contaminants, be of the wrong dose, or be the wrong medicine. I wonder how often that happens though.

More broadly, is this big ad reflective of a new approach for FDA for getting the word out on key issues?

More FDA ads to come?

If so, will we see a similar JAMA ad targeting physicians that says essentially:

“Note to Physicians. Do not put your patients, yourself, or your practice at risk by purchasing or administering unapproved biological drugs such as more than minimally manipulated stem cells.”

Frankly, I’m not sure this is the best way for the FDA to communicate these kinds of messages.

But they do need to communicate more often to a large audience using clear language, which this ad does.

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