Exposure to DTC ads leads to information seeking

IN SUMMARY: Proponents of DTC advertising argue that advertisements can raise awareness about treatments and health conditions, though others say that DTC advertising can lead to overprescribing. However, the authors of a recent study found that information seeking behavior following exposure to DTC advertising. Some of these studies associated information seeking more strongly with patients with chronic conditions and those with a more positive view of DTC advertising.

There are a lot of people who are calling for an end to DTC ads but the latest study indicates that DTC ads are leading to information seeking, mostly online.“This research offers an important perspective on the broader goal of incorporating patient and prescriber voices in decision-making,” the authors write, noting that they identified outcomes on patient information seeking, medication adherence, requests for advertised drugs, prescribing behaviors and perceptions of interactions between patients and prescribers.

The authors also found that DTC advertising was rarely the only reason patients scheduled medical visits. One of the studies, published by FDA in 2004, reported that only 4% of patients saw their doctors exclusively related to getting more information about a drug they had seen an ad for. Two smaller studies that sampled 250 and 500 patients found that 11% of respondents had scheduled appointments or sought medical care due to DTC advertising.

The authors also found mixed findings on how DTC advertising impacted patient-prescriber relationships. While only five percent of respondents to the 2004 FDA study reported a negative change in their relationship with their prescriber after discussing a DTC advertisement, 23% said such discussions improved their relationship and 72% said the discussion did not change the relationship at all.


1ne: DTC marketers need to think of closing the loop between awareness and action.

2wo: DTC marketers need to do in-depth research on what information drives behavior and ensure that information is available online.

3hree: DTC ads inform and educate consumers.

4our: Static, non-updated, pharma websites are huge liability in driving conversion.