A surge in television, radio and internet ads from law firms and lawsuit marketing companies is causing some patients to take serious risks. While “opt-in” notices are required for law firms bringing class action complaints, the rhetoric of these ads have frightened some patients into stopping critical life-saving medications without consulting a healthcare practitioner.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:
- These ads use terms like “medical alert”, “consumer alert”, “FDA warning” or "recall" and warn about the risk of death and other serious medical problems such as stroke, heart attack and cancer associated with a certain prescription medication.
- The ads, which solicit patients to join class action lawsuits, often take the tone of public service announcements and feature altered logos of government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration.
- The ads prompt you to call or visit the website of an attorney or law firm.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Your healthcare provider is the only person qualified to provide you with medical advice. They have weighed the benefits over the risks with your health history in mind.
- Medications prescribed by your healthcare provider have sustained rigorous clinical testing and regulatory evaluation to ensure patient safety and effectiveness.
- Federal law makes it illegal for these law firms to obtain your protected health data or your contact information because you’ve been prescribed a medication. An unknown solicitor should not contact you knowing what medications you take—whether via phone, email or mail.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
- Always consult your healthcare provider before starting or stopping any medications, or if you have questions or concerns about the medications you have been prescribed.
- If you have concerns about an ad’s claims about a medication you are taking, speak with your healthcare provider about your concerns.
When it comes to fraud and misleading business practices, vigilance is our number one weapon. You can join the Fraud Watch Network and receive alerts about scams happening in South Dakota. Any one of any age can join for free by visiting aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.