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Clarification Regarding Truthiness in Advertising

Title: A Clarification Regarding Truthiness in Advertising.
Name(s): Leo, Jonathan, author
Lacasse, Jeffrey R., author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: serial
Date Issued: 2007
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: We would like to clarify one statement in Dr. Frosch's reply (1), in which he states that the accuracy of advertisements awaits further investigation. Regarding Zoloft advertisements, as we pointed out in our letter, they have already been investigated. In our study, we compared statements in these advertisements to the scientific literature and found a substantial disconnect between the two (2), an unchallenged finding echoed throughout the scientific literature. The issue is best summarized by NIMH researchers who stated, "[T]he demonstrated efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors…cannot be used as primary evidence for serotonergic dysfunction in the pathophysiology of these disorders" (3). Other researchers have reached similar conclusion (4-6). The Irish Medical board specifically prohibits claims such as those made in the Zoloft advertisements based on the scientific data. Wayne Goodman, the chair of the FDA psychopharmacological advisory committee, recently stated that the serotonin theory of depression was a "useful metaphor." (7). Given these data, the fact that Frosch et al. categorize the unfounded claims of serotonergic dysfunction in social anxiety disorder as 'factual claims' without further analysis is problematic. It potentially infers that providing inaccurate factual claims is superior to making emotional appeals. Our recommendation was not that future research should study the veracity of consumer advertising, but that any content analysis of consumer advertising is quite incomplete without inclusion of the existing literature. References 1. Frosch, DL. Author reply. Annals of Family Medicine, 7 Feb 2007 2. Lacasse JR, Leo J (2005) Serotonin and depression: A disconnect between the advertisements and the scientific literature. PLoS Med 2:e392 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020392 3. Murphy DL, Andrews AM, Wichems CH, Li Q, Tohda M, et al. (1998) Brain serotonin neurotransmission: An overview and update with emphasis on serotonin subsystem heterogeneity, multiple receptors, interactions with other neurotransmitter systems, and consequent implications for understanding the actions of serotonergic drugs. J Clin Psychiatry 59:4—12. 4. Delgado P, Moreno F (2000) Role of norepinephrine in depression. J Clin Psychiatry 61:5—11. 5. Healy, D. (1997) The antidepressant era. Cambridge, MA: Harvard. 6. Stahl SM (2000) Essential psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific basis and practical applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 7. Television adverts for antidepressants cause anxiety. New Scientist (12 November 2005). Available online at
Identifier: FSU_migr_csw_faculty_publications-0048 (IID)
Keywords: direct-to-consumer advertising, sertraline, SSRI, accuracy, evidence-based medicine
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part of Series: College of Social Work Faculty Publications.

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Leo, J., & Lacasse, J. R. (2007). A Clarification Regarding Truthiness in Advertising. Retrieved from