Whether pharmaceutical companies should be banned from advertising is complex and debated. There are arguments on both sides, and it ultimately depends on one’s perspective and the specific regulations in a given country. Here are some key points to consider.
In a recent issue of JAMA Network Open, Aaron Kesselheim and colleagues published the results of a study showing that some of the most heavily advertised drugs are essentially no better at treating disease than other options. Almost two dozen complaints submitted to the FCC focused on the number of pharma ads on TV, with consumers arguing that there were “simply too many.”
What happened to journalists that actually think? The latest is “fewer than one-third of the most common drugs featured in direct-to-consumer television advertising were rated as having high therapeutic value.” Really? Did they ever think patients have a choice about what’s considered “therapeutic value”?
Another TED talk on the evils of prescription drug marketing was filled with misinformation as usual. Today consumers don’t run to their doctor after seeing a DTC ad, they do their research, and in some cases, the ads actually help them identify potential health problems.
- More people are managing their own health because our healthcare system is not focused on people.
- Wellness is becoming more important.
- Big companies will continue to invest in healthcare initiatives to cut costs and take steps to change a flawed system.
- Pharma marketing will be surpassed by new approaches to healthcare.
- In the past, DTC ads were meant to drive new Rx’s but today the path between awareness and action has become more difficult.
- DTC needs to be implemented by the unique characteristics of each health condition.
- Testing TV messages may be a waste of time and money.
- DTC needs constant measurement with effective reach a must.
- DTC TV ad spending is flat and probably will be declining in 2020.
- Various research concludes that TV, alone, does not drive new Rx’s.
- Pharma product websites continue to be underutilized.
- TV ads, in general, are ineffective in driving demand for products.
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.