Medicine and Drugs - Direct to Consumer Pharmaceutical Marketing

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The Problems of Direct to Consumer Pharmaceutical Marketing

In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration relaxed its restrictions on direct-to-consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals. Prior to this ruling, drug manufacturers were prohibited from mentioning both the name of the drug and its indications in consumer-directed advertisements without also including a large amount of technical information about the drug, including all known side effects, contraindications, and dosage recommendations (Stevens, 1998). In addition to interfering with the appeal of the advertisements, such requirements rendered broadcast ads infeasible due to time constraints, and hindered ads in print media due to cost and space availability. These requirements were abolished in the 1997 FDA policy changes, and pharmaceutical companies were permitted to market drugs by name as treatments for specific conditions, with the minimal requirement that ads give mention to major risks identified in clinical trials (Melillo, 2001). As a result, manufacturer expenditures on direct-to-consumer advertising, which totaled $791 million in 1996, rose to $2.6 billion for the year 2000 (Mitchell, 2001). Television, radio, and print media became saturated with ads promoting treatments for conditions ranging from depression to high cholesterol. Names such as Zoloft, Claritin, and Lipitor, which were previously known mostly to health professionals, quickly became part of the national vocabulary. Consequently, spending on prescription drugs has increased significantly over the past several years as consumers are enticed to seek advertised medications (HealthBizNews.com, 2001).

This new face of drug marketing has sparked a raging debate about the accompanying e...

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...e of drug advertising?" Business Week. May 22, 2000. p52.

Melillo, Wendy. "Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising Under Fire Senate to Determine if Such Work Hikes Prescription Costs." Adweek. May 21, 2001.

Mitchell, Steve. "Drug advertising raises concerns." www.msnbc.com. 2001. Miller, Susan. "Rx view: DTC Ads Provide the Right Prescription." Brandweek. June 2 29, 1998.

"Selling Drugs." American Demographics. January, 1998. p. 26.

Shapiro, Joseph and S. Schultz. "Prescriptions: How your doctor makes the choice." US News and World Report. February 19, 2001. p. 58.

Stevens, Tim. "To Your Health." Industry Week. September 7, 1998. p. 56. "Subcommittee Hears Debate on Cosumer Drug Advertising." www.healthbiznews.com. 2000.

Tanner, Lindsey. "Health and Science: Doctors propose ban on drug advertising." Nando Times. www.nando.net. June 18, 2001.
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