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Consumers still see value in drug makers’ ad campaigns


Despite increasing scrutiny from Congress and health and safety watchdog groups of pharmaceutical companies’ direct-to-consumer advertisements, consumers themselves still seem to accept the ads, and to see value in the information they contain.

A recent survey, called Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medicine, indicated ongoing consumer support still exists for direct messages from drug companies. A majority of consumers said that magazine DTC ads are “somewhat/very useful” in conveying a drug’s benefits (75 percent) and risks (76 percent). It also noted that consumers feel similarly about TV DTC ads in conveying a drug’s benefits (69 percent) and risks (78 percent).

Fifty-six percent of survey respondents also said that such ads are “done responsibly.”

Equally revealing, more than half of consumers (56 percent) say they do not follow news stories about pharmaceutical companies. In the same vein, negative attitudes toward pharmaceutical companies make no difference in consumer actions toward DTC ads. Whether they are favorable or not, the same number of consumers talked with a doctor about a specific medicine they saw advertised.

Another issue in the debate over DTC advertising is whether consumers understand how to report side effects. According to a Consumer Reports survey, most patients report side effects to their doctor, while only seven percent report them to the Food and Drug Administration.

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