The Issue Of DTCA

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The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) changed their policies concerning direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs over ten years ago, in 1997. The United States and New Zealand are the only countries that allow DTCA to occur for marketing of pharmaceuticals. The issue of DTCA around prescription drugs is a controversy of ethical proportions. The risk factors of concern are misuse and over prescribed medications due to patient and physician pressures, and the risk of driving up drug expenses. Despite the controversy, the spending on DTCA had drastically increased since the FDA provided a more lax regulation in their policies. Spending on direct-to-consumer advertising increased by 212 percent between 1996 and 2000. (1) The process of marketing to consumers or patients uses the methods of medical journals, free samples, and DTCA (Television, magazine advertisements, product placement, etc). 1. Physicians The first aspect of advertising to consumers with prescription drugs starts at the physicians. Physicians are the first direct link between a patient/consumer and their drug company. It is not unheard of to enter a doctor’s office and discover drug or company advertisements. Doctors are encouraged to offer free samples of medications and with consent of certain patients they are to offer patients experimental drugs to push them into the market. Physicians are under the influence of sale representatives from drug companies to encourage the physician to push their medications. Often doctors are sought as speakers and offered a hefty sum for their speeches. ProPublica published a searchable database of doctors who have taken money from seven drug companies in the past two years. The database features over 17,000 doctors, m... ... middle of paper ... ...he market in DTCA focuses on the top 20 prescribed medications that typically treat chronic diseases and are new to the pharmaceutical market. For every additional dollar spent on DTCA, an additional $4.20 in sales was yielded. (5) The cost of marketing and advertising a prescription drug yields results that are extremely favorable in the pharmaceutical world. Almost a third of adults say that they have spoken to their doctor about a drug they saw advertised on television and forty-four percent of those patients were prescribed the medication.(6) Pharmaceutical companies market their drugs in the most favorable light, oftentimes mitigating rare but significant side effects.(7) Most provide typical product information, along with vague descriptions of benefits; however, significantly fewer provide the ―prevalence of, risk factors for, or causes of the condition.(7)
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