According to the Coalition for Healthcare Communication “A recent study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) states that although consumer-directed drug promotion increases utilization and thus overall drug costs, it also helps to educate consumers, induce physician contact and promote adherence.” In other words those who believe DTC ads drive patients for drugs they don’t need may not be 100% correct about the value and impact of DTC ads.
The February 2013 NBER study report discusses the role of promotion to both consumers and physicians and whether such promotion is persuasive and/or informational. The study presents empirical evidence that pharmaceutical promotion has both informative and persuasive elements; it states that physician advertising is “primarily persuasive in nature, effectively increasing selective brand demand.” However, “there is no strong indication that either consumer- or provider- directed promotion substantially raised retail-level prices,” according to the study.
Now there are also some facts which need to come out to the open here and they are as follows:
-Only 10% of every healthcare dollar spent goes to Rx drugs.
-The primary driver of increasing healthcare costs are the rising costs of hospital stays.
-53% of physicians believe DTC advertising leads to better discussions with patients.
-DTC inspired physician visits resulted in a 25% new diagnosis of which 43% where high priority concerns like diabetes.
-Since 1970 the death rate from heart disease has dropped nearly 60% largely because of Rx statins.
The other thing we have to also take into consideration is that DTC advertising was down 22% in 2012 from 2011, insurers are now playing a bigger part in what patients get for an Rx and less people are doing to the doctor due to increased co-pays and working longer hours. While the drug industry still has a long way to go to earn back the trust of patients and HCP’s the drugs we take now are leading to us all leading longer and better lives which is more important as Boomers redefine aging and work longer.
There is good DTC advertising and bad DTC advertising but as the industry continues to consolidate due to patent expirations and healthcare laws my guess is we will see less but more targeted DTC ads.