Background: The United States pharmaceutical industry spends more than $20 billion per year marketing its patented drugs. Drug companies employ two main types of marketing: “marketing and promotion,” which is directed at health care professionals, and “direct-to-consumer,” which, as the name implies, is directly to patients. This “direct-to-consumer” advertisement, which costs $5 billion dollars a year, consists of mostly TV and print ads. Many people believe that these adverts manipulate patients into requesting drugs they don’t need; however, others maintain that customers should be aware and well informed of their options.
- Every “developed” country except the United States and New Zealand bans direct-to-consumer drug advertising.
- A 1979 study of British families found that pharmaceutical advertising affects the development of children, making their beliefs, attitudes, and requests for medicines more liberal.
- Because pharmaceutical companies also press doctors to prescribe new and not thoroughly tested medicines, a trend in the prescription of inappropriate medicines has been seen.
- Pharmaceutical companies do constant research and development of new medicines; to ban advertisement of these new products would be detrimental to people with conditions currently being researched.
- Although advertisements themselves are regulated, first amendment rights guarantee companies freedom to inform potential customers about their product.
- Increasing availability of internet resources has allowed people to understand their conditions better; thus, understanding which medicines are good options is also important.
- PhRMA. Pharmaceutical Marketing in Perspective. 2008. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. http://www.phrma.org/files/attachments/PhRMA%20Marketing%20Brochure%20Influences%20on%20Prescribing%20FINAL.pdf
- No Free Lunch. Changing Behavior. 2005. http://www.nofreelunch.org/changingbehavior.htm
- Robertson, J. Moynihan, R. Walkom, E. Bero, L. Henry, D. Mandatory Disclosure of Pharmaceutical Industry-Funded Events for Health Professionals. 2009. PLoS Med.
- Steyer, R. FDA Chastises AstraZeneca’s Crestor Ad. 2004. The Street. http://www.thestreet.com/story/10200557/fda-chastises-astrazenecas-crestor-ad.html
- Shaw, A. Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTC) of Pharmaceuticals. 2008. ProQuest.
- Medawar, C. Insult or Injury? An enquiry into the Marketing and Advertising of British Food and Drug Products in the Third World. 1979. Social Audit.