KEY SUMMARY: A large majority of Americans (82 percent) report seeing or hearing prescription drug advertisements, and 3 in 10 (28 percent) say they have talked with a doctor about the specific medicine they saw advertised. After talking to a doctor about a drug they saw, 15 percent of the public says the doctor recommended changes in their behavior or lifestyle, 14 percent say the doctor recommended a different prescription drug, 12 percent say they were given the drug they asked about, and 11 percent were instead recommended an over-the-counter option. Source: Kaiser Health Tracking Poll
About half of the public (51 percent) say they think that prescription drug advertising is mostly a good thing, while 4 in 10 (39 percent) say the opposite. Regardless of whether they think drug advertisements are good or bad, the public seems to find them only moderately informative. Half (50 percent) say drug advertisements do a good or excellent job of telling consumers which condition or disease the drug is designed to treat. Over 4 in 10 say the advertisements do at least a good job telling consumers about the potential benefits (47 percent) and potential side effects they might experience (44 percent). About a quarter (24 percent) say the advertisements do at least a good job of informing consumers of how effective the drug is in treating a specific condition compared to other treatments. Just 11 percent say the ads are good or excellent at informing the public of the typical cost of the drug, while 20 percent say they do a fair job and a majority (65 percent) say they do a poor job.
The public also believes that pharmaceutical companies spend too much money advertising to patients and doctors. About 6 in 10 (57 percent) say that pharmaceutical companies spend too much advertising to patients, 13 percent say too little and a quarter (25 percent) say the right amount. Nearly identical shares say the same about money spent marketing to doctors; 62 percent say they spend too much, 8 percent say too little, and 21 percent say about the right amount.
Clearly DTC can be effective, but what we really need is detailed insights into which DTC is effective by therapy class. Also the idea that patients see an ad an then ask the doctor about/for that drug is myopic. We know patients will take more action but what we need to better understand is exactly what that journey to asking for an Rx looks like by each health condition.