In the realm of pharma marketing, direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising has become a ubiquitous presence in many countries. These ads, often seen on television, in magazines, and online, aim to inform consumers about various prescription drugs and encourage them to discuss these medications with their healthcare providers. While DTC ads can be effective for certain medicines and conditions, there are situations where their use may not be appropriate or beneficial.

Prescription drug advertising has increased year after year, but are THE ads really effective? The FDA is requiring a statutory requirement that in human prescription drug advertisements presented directly to consumers in television or radio format and stating the name of the drug and its conditions of use (DTC TV/radio ads), the major statement relating to side effects and contraindications must be presented in a clear, conspicuous, and neutral manner.

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.”