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.

In its twice-yearly medical marketing information deep dive, almost half of doctors surveyed (48%) said they felt that print advertising is a "useful component" in medical journals. Another 44% said advertising at conferences and conventions is useful and that they often "notice the ones that apply to their practice."

Only a small percentage of the Kantar-surveyed doctors--a total of 3,000 physicians across 22 specialties--reported a high level of irritation with advertising. For instance, 7% said print ads interfered with reading medical journal content, while an even smaller 5% said they would be willing to pay more for journals that had no advertising. When it comes to medical conferences and conventions, only 5% of the doctors surveyed said advertising there can "unduly influence" treatment or prescribing decisions. Just 6% said they would be willing to pay more to attend meetings with no advertising displayed.

So do the conflicting ideas mean doctors can't make up their minds? Actually, they more likely point to the fact that some kinds of advertising are more acceptable to physicians than others.

Prescription drug ads on TV, it seems, are the ads that consumers and doctors love to hate. The ads draw attention in part because there are so many of them. Pharma companies spend about $4.5 billion on advertising annually, according to Kantar data, but the majority--$3.2 billion, or 62%--is spent on TV advertising.

The difference between the AMA vote and the Kantar study findings also seems to point to the fact that despite the majority rule to ban DTC, physicians are conflicted. They can have a variety of opinions on drug advertising--both good and bad.

Dr. Peter Rheinstein

Dr. Peter Rheinstein, an AMA delegate and former director of what is now the FDA's ODPD, was at the AMA meeting in Atlanta when the policy to ban pharma and medical device advertising was voted in. He said that while the majority ruled to ban DTC, some doctors stood up for DTC advertising both as a First Amendment right and as a potentially useful tool for patients to discover unknown conditions.

Still, "physicians are frustrated from the standpoint of the time demand. When a patient comes in asking for a drug they don't feel is appropriate, they have to spend time explaining that. There is also some feeling that DTC might be increasing drug prices," he said in an interview with FiercePharmaMarketing after the conference.

- read Kantar blog posts about print and conference ads

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