In 1997, the FDA opened the flood gates on direct-to-consumer advertising, thus allowing drugmakers to promote their products on television. DTC has raised awareness of disease and prompted consumers to talk to their doctor about often sensitive topics, but it has also aroused some controversy.

In a recent editorial, Ian Spatz, a former vice president for global health policy at Merck, says doctors feel pressured to prescribe the drugs patients request. And critics say the ads push consumer to ask their doctors for expensive branded drugs, driving up the cost of healthcare.

He suggests drugmakers collaborate on disease-focused campaigns that raise awareness of certain conditions and urge patients to talk to their doctors for treatment options. Doing so would cut companies' advertising budgets, end the ridiculous laundry list of frightening side effects mandated by the FDA, and deliver important information to patients.

While TV proved the dominant medium for DTC in the early 2000s, things might be changing, as Gregory Aston pointed out recently in a blog post for Marketing: Health. In 2010, TV investment fell 17 percent, more than twice the rate of the total category. GSK and six other major pharmaceutical companies significantly reduced their TV investment. Meanwhile, there was a growth seen print (plus 13 percent in 2010, Aston points out). He doesn't see this as a surprise, as it is a tried and tested method to getting the industry's point across.


DTC advertising

Latest Headlines

Latest Headlines

Kantar Media survey: Not all docs hate all ads

In the wake of the American Medical Association's pan of DTC advertising last week, Kantar Media recently found that not all physicians dislike all advertising.

If TV's everywhere, then where does pharma need to be?

Good-bye appointment TV, hello TV everywhere. As TV and video watching becomes wherever and whenever consumers want, marketers, including pharma, have had to shift strategies to reach those hard-to-pin-down viewers.

UPDATED: Just say no to drugs (advertising): AMA votes to ban DTC ads

The American Medical Association is done with DTC. In a historic vote on Tuesday, the physicians' group voted for a ban on all direct-to-consumer advertising for drugs and medical devices.

Allergan counting on January formulary boost to jump-start Namzaric launch

When a U.S. appeals court nixed Allergan's plans to force Namenda patients over to a new, patent-protected version before generics arrived, the company assured investors that its new combo med Namzaric would unlock a market segment worth some $2 billion. So far, though, Namzaric is "a little slow out of the box," as Leerink Partners analyst Jason Gerberry put it on last week's Q3 conference call.

Real-life insomnia stories at core of new Merck-backed awareness campaign

Zac, Jessica, Jana and Julie are "Beyond Tired." That's the name of the new awareness campaign from Merck & Co. and the National Sleep Foundation, featuring four average Americans and their insomnia experiences as a way to promote and discuss sleep health.

Pfizer launches first Prevnar TV spot to bring in the 50-plus crowd

Pfizer knows adults generally don't think they're at risk for pneumococcal pneumonia. So to get them to listen up about pneumonia-blocker Prevnar 13, it linked the disease to those they do take seriously.

Novartis sees doc-education push, DTC as crucial to amping up Entresto launch

When Novartis was preparing to roll out its new heart failure drug Entresto, market watchers expected big things. But when the sales numbers rolled in for the third quarter, Entresto only accounted for $16 million--and that's mostly from wholesaler stocking. What's going on? It's partly a story of payer barriers.

Biogen to put layoffs savings toward DTC, patient support for lagging Tecfidera

Tecfidera's slowing growth trajectory has gotten maker Biogen into a pickle lately, propelling it to announce more than 800 layoffs Wednesday. But the drugmaker is hoping it can put the money it saves through those cuts into marketing activities that'll help the multiple sclerosis med pick up the pace in the U.S.

One year after FDA nod, Eli Lilly's Trulicity launches first consumer campaign

Trulicity was late to the next-generation diabetes treatment party, so Eli Lilly knew its launch would have to be different.

AbbVie's Humira, J&J's Invokana lead September's $231M in pharma TV ad spending

The top 50 pharma companies spent almost a quarter-billion on TV advertising ($231 million) in September, airing ads more than 91,000 times. Of those spots, more than 20% (18,753) ran in primetime.