Drug company disclaimers set in Arial or Times New Roman.

processcamera's picture

It seems that magazine ads for trademarked drugs are always accompanied by a page or two of legal boilerplate that's set in Arial or Times New Roman. All the medical qualifications and patient warnings are no doubt required as protection against potential lawsuits, and not intended to promote reading, but I wonder if there's a marketing psychology when wealthy drug companies use a PC system font in their magazine ads. Do you think the reliance on PC system fonts is mostly to discourage reading of the legal boilerplate or is it equally designed to suggest the drug companies are just plain folks who stick to the fonts already installed on their computers? My personal assumption is the latter.

blank's picture

Are you sure that they aren't required to use those fonts?

aluminum's picture

I second James. More than likely, these are FDA requirements.

joeclark's picture

I strongly doubt there are any such requirements.

processcamera's picture

I believe the FDA is on record as permitting drug warning disclaimers in magazine ads (as opposed to such warnings in prescription bottles) to use any clear and legible font that's at least 8 point. The FDA's formal typography standards are posted online at:

www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1999-03-17/pdf/99-6296.pdf

Nick Shinn's picture

If minimum size, defined in points, is the requirement, it makes sense to play it safe and use a default system font.
Using something that is smaller on the em (or, for that matter, condensed) to take up less space, could be contentious.

JamesM's picture

I'm a graphic designer and one of my clients is a large pharmaceutical company. I've never done a magazine ad for them, but based on my general experiences working with them my guess is that a manager either said: 1) "regulators require that we do it this way", or else 2) "regulators have approved disclaimers done this way so let's not try something different".

If a certain font and point size has been approved by regulators in the past, they'll play it safe and stick with those specs.

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