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PHARMA: DTC advertising works; not exactly a revelation!

So I spent far too much of my life trying to figure out the exact impact that DTC drug ads would have on the exact consumer sub-demographic so that marketing could be refined, and consumer segments sliced and diced.  Turns out that was totally unnecessary.  All you have to do is to get the patient to say the name of the drug in front of the doctor and think that they might have an associated symptom and the doc is only to happy to get them out of the office with said script. 

And it’s good for a five-fold increase in prescriptions compared to patients who don’t ask for it by name. The hidden persuaders don’t need to be that hidden!

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Dan
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A Television is Not A Medical School We often see advertisements on television for some type of medication — usually one involved in a large-market disease and the commercial is sponsored by a big pharmaceutical company. This is called direct to consumer (DTC) advertising, and doctors would prefer they did not exist. Since 1997, when the FDA relaxed regulations regarding this form of advertising, the popularity of these commercials greatly increased. Now, the pharmaceutical industry spends around $5 billion annually on this gigantic media effort. Normally, the commercial airs within a year of the drug’s approval, which raises safety concerns… Read more »

Lily
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I’ve seen ads on TV for Caduet. It has two ingredients. One is Amlodipine and the other is Atorvastatin. With my RxDrugCard I can get 30 tablets of Amlodipine for $9 and 30 tablets of Simvastatin for $9. I’ll bet they are charging more than $18 for this new drug! The unthinking public is going to pressure their doctors into giving them something just because it’s new when something old or generic would do the job for cheaper.

William Hill
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DTC (direct-to-consumer) Advertising is one of the most controversial practices the drug industry uses to market its various products. Total spending on pharmaceutical promotion grew from $11.4 billion in 1996 to $29.9 billion in 2005. Although during that time spending on direct-to-consumer advertising increased by 330%, it made up only 14% of total promotional expenditures in 2005. Direct-to-consumer campaigns generally begin within a year after the approval of a product by the FDA. Supporters of this form of advertising, which is banned in nearly almost all countries (excluding the United States and New Zealand) say it provides a real service… Read more »

gadfly
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gadfly

//actually depressed and in need of a prescription?// LOL – I was just thinking about this after watching the Lorraine Bracco depression treatment ad. On the other hand, I suppose most actors would hesitate to chemically “treat” any extremes of feeling because strong emotion can contribute to their development of their craft. I seem to recall reading a number of interviews where actors I particularly respect discuss depression and how they tap into it for their art. I’m also under the impression that a lot of actors see therapists to deal with the stresses of unstable unemployment and to better… Read more »

matt
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matt

“The other thing about using actresses is that there are usually an awful lot of folks following that profession who need the work. ;)”
How does the study account for actresses who – having failed to break into the business except for the random DTC study – are actually depressed and in need of a prescription?

Linkmeister
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The other thing about using actresses is that there are usually an awful lot of folks following that profession who need the work. 😉

gadfly
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gadfly

// I blame the obesity epedemic on people eating too much and not exercising enough// Eating too much and not exercising enough are certainly major factors, but these factors shouldn’t rule out the possibility of other ones. I’m not suggesting the SSRI story is as simple as Bad Pill Causes Weight Gain. For one thing, women gain weight for years after they stop taking SSRIs: those that I know about just regard an SSRI prescription as the turning point. A more complex explanation might be that SSRI’s cause metabolic changes that are hard to recover from – requiring more exercise… Read more »

Matt
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Matt

Am I the only one who enjoyed the use of actresses in this study? I have to admit that I’ve asked my doc about prescribing me advertised drugs just to gauge his reaction 🙂
I think the lesson here is that drug companies should hire and deploy an army of actresses to determine the “prescribing potential” of their target docs. No more free lunches and “educational seminars” in warm locales for those who don’t “respond to the needs of patients”…
PS I blame the obesity epedemic on people eating too much and not exercising enough

Abby
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Abby

Ads do influence people a lot, but I have to admit that I’ve asked for a specific drug, “or one in its class” that wasn’t being advertised but had been discussed a lot on an internet support group.

gadfly
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gadfly

Re: Packard – I actually think there is some status that accrues from taking SSRIs. There is a lingering popular association between mental disorder and exceptional sensitivity, dramas of harm/grief/loss, an implied request for special protection from attack, and an aura of genius. Mental disorder is a distinguishing mark, a personal style, and undergoing treatment for mental disorder establishes that you had the disorder in the first place. I don’t deny the reality of chemical imbalances, though I think that factors such as diet, environment, and social condition influence physiological changes. I think the expanding ranks of the self-proclaimed mentally… Read more »

Linkmeister
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Vance Packard would be proud.

gadfly
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gadfly

I think this is a step in building my case about the link between the pharmaceutical ads and the healthcare crisis. To recap my theory: 1. Pharma ads promote expanding diagnosis and pharmaceutical treatment of depression (and other “mental disorders). 2. Pharmaceutical treatment of mental disorder plays a significant role in the obesity epidemic, causing more health problems (and more prescriptions). If anyone knows of research linking SSRIs in particular to obesity, please let me know. Another thing to look at is “female hormone balance”. The research I’ve seen is ambivalent – usually treating weight changes as a side issue,… Read more »