Roche exec: DTC ads hurt big pharma

We can blame the tarnished reputation of the pharmaceutical industry on its decision to participate in direct-to-consumer advertising according to William Burns, head of Roche's pharmaceuticals group.

Are TV ads a fair scapegoat for pharma's problems? We're not sure, but Burns' revelation is ironic since it is clear is that Roche has dropped a hefty pile of cash on having Sally Field (video) peddle its osteoporosis drug, Boniva, on television lately--and we're betting that Roche will won't stop commercial ads aimed at consumers. 

Burns says that direct-to-consumer ads undermine pharma's reputation in the eyes of patients. "DTC advertising has been the worst decision for the drug industry," he said. "When industry says we're spending all the money on R&D, but actually it's spending it on TV advertising to preserve margins, it doesn't get much credibility."

Only New Zealand and the U.S. allow direct-to-consumer advertising, but its prevalence has skyrocketed in the U.S., increasing 330 percent between 1996 and 2005.

- read the Pharmalot blog post
- see the Wall Street Journal blog entry