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Side Effects Warnings on Drugs Backfiring, Researchers Find

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A team of international researchers say that people do actually pay attention to the scary warnings about side effects that come with new prescription drugs.

And yet, instead of being wary of potentially harmful medications, consumers seem more attracted to them the longer the delay is between seeing an ad and actually buying the drug.

The scientists from NYU, Tel Aviv University and INSEAD in Singapore discovered that “Messages that warn consumers about potentially harmful side effects -- presumably with the intent to nudge them to act more cautiously -- can ironically backfire.”

They reached that conclusion by conducting a series of experiments with cigarettes and artificial sweeteners that came with warnings. What happened was, the longer the consumer waited to buy the product following the warning of possible harmful side effects, the more inclined they were to actually purchase it.

What’s more, they also regarded the companies posting the caveats as more honest and trustworthy.

The researchers consider their findings worrisome and are advising regulatory agencies to consider the delayed outcomes of side effect warnings that appear to have the opposite intent.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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