Pharmaceutical Advertising

February 28, 2012 at 3:07 PM Leave a comment


As consumers, we are by no means strangers to pharmaceutical advertisements. They are constantly in front of us, whether it is via TV commercials, magazine ads, or billboards along the highway. An article published on the New York Times (nytimes.com) website takes a look at how these direct to consumer advertisements have impacted Americans’ use of prescription drugs. It also discusses how doctors and patients now use checklists that can be found often times online to diagnose ailments and indicate the proper treatment.

The goal of pharmaceutical companies in regards to advertisements to consumers is clear; they want to raise awareness of their branded drug and want consumers to choose their prescription medication to take over others. It has been difficult to prove, however, that advertisements lead to any increase in direct sales as mentioned in the article. Are patients really any more likely to take a particular drug simply because they know of the brand, or do they simply listen to what their healthcare providers tell them to do? And is the information provided in these ads helping the consumer become more well-informed and knowledgeable with respect to what drugs they should be taking?

Many people, me included, seem to find drug advertisements to be a bit of a nuisance. Although I may be wrong, when the time comes for me to begin taking various prescription medications, I think I will let my doctor make the diagnosis and prescribe me whatever drug he or she thinks will work best—regardless of whether I’ve seen a commercial for it or not. Obviously this is not the case with every consumer; there are some that question their doctors on certain brand name drugs. My question is: is it really worth the time and money of pharmaceutical companies to heavily advertise their drugs to consumers? If there is no way to prove that they help sales and many consumers are annoyed by the ads, is the main reason to continue this heavy advertising to consumers simply to keep up with others in the industry?

I assume pharmaceutical companies could save a significant amount of money if they cut back on their advertising, and with little research to support that advertisements help sales, doing so may not have a negative impact. I know I would not be upset with the absence of prescription drug ads in my day to day life and I am sure I am not alone.

Author: Jamie Notaro

Edited by: Ken Chiang

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Entry filed under: Comparative Effectiveness Data, Evidence Plans, Generic Drugs, Healthcare Economics, Lifecycle Management.

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