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e-Journal

 

Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceuticals
(Released March 2008)

 
  by Amy Shaw  

Review

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Resources

Glossary

Editor
 
Resources News Articles
Historical Newspapers
Scholars

News Articles

  1. How Consumers' Attitudes Toward Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs Influence Ad Effectiveness, and Consumer and Physician Behavior

    Marketing Letters. Boston: Dec 2004. Vol. 15, Iss. 4, p. 201-212

    Abstract (Summary)
    Data from 1081 adults surveyed by the FDA were analyzed to explore consumers' attitudes toward direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs, and the relation between these attitudes and health related consumption behaviors. We report the favorableness of consumers' reactions to DTCA, and more importantly, demonstrate that consumers' attitudes toward DTCA are related to whether they search for more information about a drug that is advertised, and ask their physician about the drug. Finally, we document how consumers' attitudes towards DTCA relate to the prescription writing behavior of their physicians. Mediation analyses that more fully explicate these findings are discussed.

    Click for PDF version.

  2. THE PAYOFF; In short, marketing works; By targeting consumers and doctors -- directly and indirectly -- drug makers are driving sales. Why mess with success?

    Melissa Healy.
    Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.:Aug 6, 2007. p. F.6

    Abstract (Summary)
    "Physicians are heavily socialized to believe that they have risen above the normal human foibles," said Harvard University's David Blumenthal, co-author of the most recent survey detailing doctor-drug company interactions. "They clearly recognize that physicians are human and subject to normal human influences; they just have a lot of trouble seeing themselves as subject to that."

    "They ask, 'Do you really think that my medical decision-making can be influenced by the fact that someone bought me a pizza?' " [Andrew Leuchter] said. "They're quite sobered" when confronted with the mounting pile of evidence that it can, he added.

    "You're not overtly thinking, 'I'm going to prescribe this drug because I got a pen," [Kurt Stange] said. "You're just thinking, 'What will help this patient?' and you've been bombarded with advertisements, and the name is always before you. . . . You have to have a fair amount of self-awareness to notice that."

    Full Text (1218 words)
    (Copyright (c) 2007 Los Angeles Times)

    The pharmaceutical industry defends its promotional spending as a service to science, physicians and patients. Advertising to patients helps motivate them to improve their health, manufacturers say, and detailing doctors keeps them abreast of new therapies and scientific advances.

    Those activities also, indisputably, boost sales. As marketing budgets climbed toward a 2006 high of $28 billion, sales of prescription drugs have never been higher. According to estimates published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of individual prescriptions filled in the United States rose from 2.9 billion in 1999 to 3.7 billion in 2006; in 1994, Kaiser calculated that each American filled on average 7.9 prescriptions per year, including refills; by 2005, that number had risen to 12.4.

    For every 10% increase in direct-to-consumer advertisements within a class of similar drugs, sales of drugs in that class (say, antidepressants or erectile dysfunction drugs) went up 1%, Kaiser found in a 2003 study. In 2000, direct-to-consumer advertising alone boosted drug sales 12%, at an additional cost of $2.6 billion to consumers and insurers.

    Of more than 10,000 drugs on the U.S. pharmaceutical market, half of all marketing budgets are used to promote 50 brand-name medications, according to a 2003 study in the journal Clinical Therapy. And those 50 drugs are the ones that sell the best.

    Prodding patients to prod their physicians, apparently, works. In 2006, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 834 office-based physicians found that 28% of doctors said patients "frequently" asked for prescription drugs by name after seeing an advertisement. Although about half said they typically responded by suggesting lifestyle changes, 14% of the physicians said they would, in many cases, prescribe a different drug in the same class as the one the patient requested. And 5% readily acknowledged that they frequently would prescribe the drug the patient requested. . . .

  3. Pitt prof claims government surfs past TV drug ads

    Allison M. Heinrichs
    Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Washington: Aug 16, 2007

    Abstract
    Spending on pharmaceutical promotion almost tripled in a decade, from $11.4 billion in 1996 to $29.9 billion in 2005, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration enforcement of drug advertising rules declined, according to the research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Full Text (609 words)
    To see more of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/. Copyright (c) 2007, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

    Aug. 16--Misleading and potentially dangerous advertising reach the public because of inadequate government monitoring of how the pharmaceutical industry markets its products, according to a University of Pittsburgh report.

    Spending on pharmaceutical promotion almost tripled in a decade, from $11.4 billion in 1996 to $29.9 billion in 2005, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration enforcement of drug advertising rules declined, according to the research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    "Such ads need to be carefully monitored and rules enforced," said Julie Donohue, lead author of the article and assistant professor at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health. "We have the right regulations in place, but the FDA is lacking resources to enforce them."

    FDA letters to pharmaceutical manufacturers noting violations of laws regarding drug ads fell from 142 in 1997 to 21 in 2006, according to the report. . . .

  4. NOTHING BUT BLUE SKIES?

    Rich Thomaselli
    Advertising Age. (Midwest Region Edition). Chicago:Oct 2, 2006. Vol. 77, Iss. 40, p. 3,51 (2 pp.)

    Abstract
    Since 1998, DTC drug advertising has emerged from a dawdling $12 million business to a $4.1 billion ad category spanning some 70 advertised drugs. As predicted, it is also become a lightning rod for political and public criticism, subject to charges that it encourages consumers to pressure doctors for drugs they do not need; that it glamorizes drugs that have later been found to have dangerous side effects; and, in the case of erectile-disfunction drugs, that it promotes medicinal drugs for recreational uses. The industry has been proactive in addressing hot-button issues. The industry received a huge boost earlier this summer when the American Medical Association rebuffed an effort by two of its chapter members that asked for a resolution banning DTC ads. Instead, the AMA asked for a temporary moratorium on DTC marketing of newly approved drugs.

    Full Text (1392 words)
    Copyright Crain Communications, Incorporated Oct 2, 2006

    DAVID KESSLER DIDN'T mince words.

    "Your companies likely will face lawsuits eventually about the claims they make for their products in television commercials," the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner told a group of pharmaceutical executives. "One day in a courtroom, I assure you, one of you is going to have your DTC ads played."

    It wasn't just hard-hitting; it was prescient: Mr. Kessler's speech came in 1998, a year after the FDA's momentous decision to relax the guidelines regarding direct-to-consumer TV ads from drug companies.

    Since that time, DTC drug advertising has emerged from a dawdling $12 million business to a $4.1 billion ad category spanning some 70 advertised drugs. As predicted, it's also become a lightning rod for political and public criticism, subject to charges that it encourages consumers to pressure doctors for drugs they don't need; that it glamorizes drugs that have later been found to have dangerous side effects; and, in the case of erectile-disfunction drugs, that it uses promotes medicinal drugs for recreational uses.

    "In some ways, DTC got away from us," said Dr. Kessler, now dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor of medical affairs at the University of California-San Francisco.

    It was in 1996 that the unmistakable sound of Cole Porter came singing through TV sets across the country, ushering in a decade of what has been a watershed for the advertising and pharmaceutical industries. . . .

  5. A Dream Campaign

    George Koroneos
    Pharmaceutical Executive. Eugene:Jun 2007. Vol. 27, Iss. 6, p. 100,102 (2 pp.)

    Abstract
    Takeda's surreal ad campaign for the sleep aid Rozerem (ramelteon) has stirred up more controversy and intrigue than any direct-to-consumer ad in recent memory. With its unforgettable characters, sense of humor, and ability to balance creative with clinical information, the ads have broken the traditional pharma advertising template. The ad features a conversation between an insomniac and his dreams about his lack of sleep. The tagline "Your dreams miss you" scrolls across the bottom of the screen as Abe Lincoln and a beaver chat with the patient over a game of chess. Print ads show the duo in similar situations, and the brand's Web site offers interactive features, videos, and health information. Although Rozerem has been slow to recoup ad costs, Chris Benecchi, product director for Rozerem marketing, says that drug sales are on the rise as the campaign rolls on. For the first quarter of 2007, the drug has earned $28.1 million.

    Full Text (1460 words)
    Copyright Advanstar Communications, Inc. Jun 2007

    Takeda's surreal ad campaign for the sleep aid Rozerem (ramelteon) us stirred up more controversy and intrigue than any DTC ad in recent memory. With its unforgettable characters, sense of humor, and ability to balance creative with clinical information, the ads have broken the traditional pharnia advertising template. But most important, people are talking about the commercial with the beaver.

    Watch almost any prime-time television show and you're bound to come across the ad. It features a conversation between an insomniac and his dreams about his lack of sleep. The tagline Your dreams miss you scrolls across the bottom of the screen as Abe Lincoln and a beaver chat with the patient over a game of chess. Print ads show the duo in similar situations, and the brand's Web site offers interactive features, videos, and health information. Takeda has even gone as far as branding the icons on subway cars, in elevators, and-best yet-on coffee mugs.

    Does the campaign sound too over-the-top for a sleep aid? Perhaps, but Takeda is facing off against two blockbuster sleep drugs-Ambien (zolpidem) and Lunesta (eszopiclone)-in a very crowded insomnia market.

    Even worse, FDA approved Rozerem in July 2005, but Takeda postponed consumer advertising due to an industry-imposed, one-year DTC moratorium.

    Takeda spent 2005 to 2006 bulking up its professional campaign with AbelsonTaylor at the helm. The ad team highlighted the drug's unique method of action (MOA)-a selective melatonin receptor agonist that lacks the addictive quality of competing sleep aids. "We wanted to give our sales representatives time to meet with healthcare professionals and educate them on the importance of treating insomnia and how Rozerem works," explains Chris Benecchi, product director for Rozerem marketing. "We wanted them well versed in how to prescribe it long before we ever started the consumer campaign." . . .

News Articles taken from ProQuest's eLibrary.

Historical Newspapers

  1. TV Ads for Prescription Drug To Start Today, Causing a Stir
    MICHAEL WALDHOLZ, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
    May 19, 1983. pg. 37

    NOTHING IS GENERATING more debate in the drug industry than recent efforts by a few companies to advertise their prescription products directly to the public. Today, the first televised ads for a prescription drug will begin a six-week trial in Florida, and they are certain to cause a stir.

    Original Newspaper Image (PDF)

Taken from ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.

Scholars

  1. Lexchin, Joel
    Associate Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, York University
    jlexchin@yorku.ca
    Relationship between pharmaceutical company user fees and drug approvals in Canada and Australia: a hypothesis-generating study. . . .Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. . . .Drug advertising in medical journals.

  2. Zinkhan, George M.
    Chair/Head/Professor, Department of Marketing, University of Georgia
    http://www.terry.uga.edu/marketing/faculty/zinkhan.html
    The advertising of prescription medications directly to consumer (DTC advertising) has become a familiar practice in the USA. As with all advertising spending, key questions include: how effective is this advertising?; what are the best ways to measure advertising effectiveness? This paper. . . Ideally, the purpose of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is to educate and inform consumers about medical conditions of which they may not be aware, and about the availability of medications to treat these conditions. To what extent DTC prescription drug advertising communicates detailed

  3. Toop, Leslie J.
    Professor, General Practice Group, University of Otago
    les.toop@chmeds.ac.nz
    Direct to consumer advertising. . . .Physicians' negative views of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA): the international evidence grows. . . .New Zealand deserves better. Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription medicines in New Zealand: for health or for profit?

  4. Rubin, Paul H.
    Professor, Economics, Emory University
    http://www.economics.emory.edu/Rubi.htm
    Pharmaceutical companies have greatly increased their level of "direct-to-consumer" (DTC) advertising in recent years. For 1998, estimates are that over $1.1 billion was spent on this form of advertising, increased from $850 million in 1997 and $600 million in 1996. In 1998, 84 separate drugs were

  5. Pinto, Mary Beth
    Associate Professor, Sam and Irene Black School of Business, Pennsylvania State University - The Behrend College
    http://www.pserie.psu.edu/schbus/SOB%20Faculty%20Webpages/PintoMB/PintoMBHome.htm
    The past decade has seen a steady rise in expenditures for direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. While total revenues across all media are approaching the $1 billion dollar mark. . . and directions for research on appeals used in direct-to-consumer advertising are suggested. . . .The recent dramatic increase in direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs has important implications for the pharmaceutical industry, physicians, and patients.

List of scholars taken from ProQuest's Community of Scholars