11th Annual Survey on Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Rx Drugs: Majority View DTC Ads Useful

Many Search Online for Prescription Info (53%), Visit Pharm Co. Web Site (50%) According to the 11th annual national survey, “Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medicines,” doctors' endorsement of drugs in pharmaceutical ads has little impact on consumer perception of those drugs. Seventy-five percent of consumers say a doctor’s appearance in an ad does not make an advertised medicine seem more effective, and 72% say it doesn't make it seem safer. The survey, conducted by Prevention, Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines, with technical assistance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communication (FDA- DDMAC), is one of the primary consumer studies informing the FDA’s stance on Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) issues. Mirroring overall trends in information seeking, the study found a significant increase in consumers using the web for medical queries:
  • More than half (53%) of all consumers go online to look for prescription drug information, vs. 41% in 2007, and 10% have clicked on a DTC banner ad, compared to 5% in 2006.
  • Many have visited the Web site of a pharmaceutical company (50%) or advertised brand of medicine (40%).
"Consumers are firmly rooted in the era of online health management as more and more patients embrace tools and trackers such as Google, Yahoo and Revolution Health,” said Cary Silvers, Director of Consumer Insights at Rodale, who spearheaded this year’s survey. “Along with the doctor and pharmacist, the online component has become the third leg of the stool as consumers learn about drugs. The more consumers know, the more likely they are to take action.” Other key findings from the 11th annual survey on Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medicine:
  • Doctors' offices are valuable distributors of health information: 63% of consumers notice informational materials (posters, brochures, videos) featured there.
  • The majority of consumers say that magazine DTC ads are “somewhat/very useful” in conveying a drug’s benefits (75%) and risks (76%). Consumers feel similarly about TV DTC ads in conveying a drug’s benefits (69%) and risks (78%). Fifty-six percent say that ads are “done responsibly."
  • 58% of consumers are currently taking a prescription drug, compared to 47% ten years ago. Of those taking prescription medicines, 55% saw an advertisement for the medicine they were taking.
  • Over a 5-year average, among every one who saw a DTC ad, 73% of the consumers talked to their doctor about a medicine while 25% asked the doctor to prescribe it. Of those who just talked about the drug, 25% received the prescription for the advertised medicine. Of those who specifically asked, 77% received the prescription.
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