Surgical journal’s surgical exploration of medical ads

Many medical journals sport attractive ads. Many of these ads supply information to back up their claims (or will supply information, if you ask the advertiser for it). To what extent does that info actually support what the ad says? This study took a bit of a look into the question:

Claim Validity of Print Advertisements Found In Otolaryngology Journals,” Anthony Del Signore, PharmD, MD; Andrew H. Murr, MD; Lawrence R. Lustig, MD; Michael P. Platt, MD; Scharukh Jalisi, MD; Loring W. Pratt, MD; Jeffrey H. Spiegel, MD, Archives of Otolaryngology— Head and Neck Surgery, Published online May 16, 2011. The authors write:

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the accuracy and scientific evidence supporting product claims made in print advertisements within otolaryngology journals.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey with literature review and multiple-reviewer evaluation. Fifty claims made within 23 unique advertisements found in prominent otolaryngology journals were selected. References to support the claims were provided within the advertisements or obtained through direct request to the manufacturer. Five academic otolaryngologists with distinct training and geographic practice locations reviewed the claims and supporting evidence.
RESULTS: Of the 50 claims, only 14 were determined to be based on strong evidence (28%)
CONCLUSIONS: Advertisers make claims that appear in respectable journals, but greater than half of the claims reviewed were not supported by the provided reference materials.

(Thanks to investigator Maria Fan for bringing this to our attention.)