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By: Jay K. Simmons
For several years the FDA and FTC have been considering the impact of celebrity endorsers. The FDA is now providing an opportunity for public comment on a proposed study on celebrity endorsers and the explicitness of payment disclosures in direct-to-consumer promotions. As the agency’s January 28, 2020 notice indicates, commercial advertisers have long employed celebrity endorsers, including in direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical promotion. Prior research has explored the role of various types of endorsers, such as celebrity influencers, experts and non-celebrities, in generating attention for a product. Existing research suggests that physicians and pharmacists, followed by other consumers and celebrities, are the types of endorsers most likely to influence consumers’ interest in purchasing over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
The FDA proposes collecting new information in this area via two studies on the role of celebrity product endorsements and endorsers’ payment status. These studies are proposed to consider “the role of endorsement and payment status on participants’ recall, benefit and risk perceptions, and behavioral intentions.” This includes, first, whether the type of endorser and “the presence of their payment status influences participant reactions,” and second, the impact of different types of endorsers’ payment disclosure language, ranging from “direct and more consumer-friendly” to “less direct.”
The FDA invites comments on these topics: (1) whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of FDA's functions, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of FDA's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques, when appropriate, and other forms of information technology. Comments on the proposed information collection are due by March 30, 2020.
 Endorser Status and Explicitness of Payment in Direct-to-Consumer Promotion, 85 Fed. Reg. 4,994 (Jan. 28, 2020). For online publication of the notice, see https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-01-28/pdf/2020-01408.pdf.
 Id. at 4,995. (citing Bhutada, N.S. and B.L. Rollins, Disease-Specific Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceuticals: An Examination of Endorser Type and Gender Effects on Consumers’ Attitudes and Behaviors, 11 Research in Soc. & Admin. Pharm. 891– 910 (2015))).
 Id. (citing LaTour, C. and M. Smith, A Study of Expert Endorsement of OTC Pharmaceutical Products, 1 J. Pharm. Mktg. & Mgmt. 117–128 (1986)).
 Id. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, federal agencies are required to publish notices in the Federal Register pertaining to proposed collections of information and must allow 60 days for public comment in response to such notices.