Survey: Rx Drug Lawsuit Ads Could Scare Millions Out Of Taking their Medications

As many as 12 million prescription users could stop taking their meds after seeing ads for drug lawsuits

June 22, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One in four Americans taking certain prescribed medicines say they would stop taking them immediately—without consulting their doctor—after seeing ads promoting lawsuits against the drugs’ manufacturers, according to a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).

Conducted by the survey firm of Public Opinion Strategies (POS), the study covered the opinions of all Americans, but particularly those prescribed drugs most often targeted by plaintiffs’ lawyers, including blood thinners, cholesterol, and diabetes medications as well as drugs taken for anxiety, depression and indigestion.

According to the survey, seven in 10 Americans have seen a trial lawyer ad for a lawsuit over a prescription medicine. And 84 percent say they would be concerned if they saw a lawsuit ad about a medicine they were taking. 

These numbers suggest the impact of drug lawsuit ads on the public health could be significant. According to a recent report, at least 30 people suffered serious medical problems —including two deaths—because they stopped taking Xarelto without their doctors’ approval after seeing one of these lawsuit commercials. 

This week, a House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee is holding a hearing on the dangers of these lawsuit ads.

“Alarmist plaintiff lawyer ads targeting prescription drugs can literally scare people to death,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “Congress is right to examine their impact on the public’s health and to consider how this can be remedied.”

In 2016, an arm of the American Medical Association (AMA) passed a resolution calling such ads “fear mongering” and “dangerous” for patients. Moreover, it called for the government to require lawyers to include warnings in the ads telling patients not to stop any medication without consulting their doctor.

In March 2017, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent letters to the American Bar Association and bar associations in all 50 states urging them to adopt the AMA’s recommendation.

The POS survey on lawyer ads surveyed 1,335 adults 18+, with 500 adults who were taking one of 12 targeted prescriptions, conducted May 5-25, 2017, with a margin of error +/- 3.5%.

View the full survey findings here.

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.