Direct-to-Consumer Medicines Ads Increasing Despite Criticisms

Drug company shelling out for direct-to-consumer marketing continues to skyrocket, even as criticisms against this have soared. Calling intended for a moratorium, instead of just restrictions, on this kind of advertising might be in order, state the authors of a report in the Aug. 16 problem of the New England Journal of Medication.”Direct-to-consumer marketing spending is increasing when it comes to its reveal of total marketing budget, but it’s still a smaller share relative to promotion targeted at influencing prescribers,” stated study writer Julie M. Donohue, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate College of Public Wellness. The U. S. Meals and Medication Administration started permitting direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications on television a decade ago. Since that time, spots of Dorothy Hamill and Sally Field peddling Vioxx and Boniva, respectively, cartoon characters illustrating the consequences of the antidepressant Zoloft, and a wide variety of similar promotions have become commonplace on American TV displays and in other mass media. But so, too, has criticism of the practice. Skeptics say that direct-to-consumer marketing encourages overuse of medications and drives up medication spending. The controversy reached critical proportions when the arthritis drug Vioxx, probably the most heavily promoted medications ever, was withdrawn from the market in 2004 because of serious cardiovascular risks.”It has been 10 years since the FDA clarified its policy regarding broadcast advertising and unleashed direct-to-consumer advertising on television, that was new,” Donohue said. “We wished to see, in the wake of the Vioxx withdrawal and an increased focus on the basic safety of medicines and a focus on drug costs in light of the implementation of the brand new Medicare drug benefit, what sector and the FDA had been doing regarding advertising.”Because of this evaluation, Donohue and her co-workers looked at pharmaceutical company shelling out for direct-to-consumer advertising and advertising to physicians in the last decade. Total pharmaceutical industry shelling out for promotion soared from $11.4 billion in 1996 to almost $30 billion in 2005. Throughout that time, spending on direct-to-consumer advertising increased by 330 percent, yet this type of advertising only made up 14 percent of total promotional expenditures. These mass-media advertising blitzes generally start before a drug’s safety track record has been established in the marketplace, the researchers said.”For the majority of heavily advertised drugs, direct-to-consumer marketing starts within in regards to a yr of FDA authorization and typically well before the safety profile offers been established,” Donohue said. The most heavily marketed drug in 2005 was that “little purple pill,” Nexium, a proton pump inhibitor heartburn drug, on which AstraZeneca spent $224 million. Next came the sleeping tablet Lunesta ($214 million), followed by the cholesterol-reducing statins Vytorin ($155 million) and Crestor ($144 million), after that Advair, a corticosteroid ($137 million). Viagra was 17th on the list, with $80 million spent in 2005.Eight of the top 10 drug classes when it comes to sales had at least one product that was promoted through DTC marketing. Manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors, statins and erythropoietin medicines (drugs such as for example Procrit, which increase red blood cellular counts) spent 34 percent, 34 percent and 31 percent of their total marketing budget on direct-to-consumer marketing in 2005, respectively.”In nearly all top-selling classes, in least one drug is advertised to customers and in over fifty percent of the classes multiple drugs are advertising to customers, so that it really does perform a major function,” Donohue said. “DTC marketing is used for a small subset of medications, whereas other forms of promotion like ‘detailing’ [person-to-person meetings] and free samples are used by manufacturers for practically all branded items.”The antidepressants referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, led the field in promotional spending with an increase of than $1 billion spent in 2005. Next were statins ($859 million), after that proton pump inhibitors ($884 million).At the same time, Donohue stated, “The FDA’s monitoring of drug advertising hasn’t kept speed with the quantity of advertising of prescription medications. The amount of warning letters going out to drug companies has decreased markedly [from 142 in 1997 to 21 in 2006], and the number of FDA staff responsible for advertisements was relatively flat recently, regardless of spending boosts.”It might be that the guidelines themselves are sufficient, but that enforcement powers are not.”My view is that the advertising rules that are on the book now are adequate. Prescription drug ads are being among the most heavily regulated advertisements if you look at all the consumer products,” Donohue said. “But the enforcement of the rules needs to be there as well, and resources essential for reviewing advertisements have to be sufficient.””And drug manufacturers don’t need to have FDA authorization of advertisements before airing them, so an advertisement campaign can operate its course prior to the FDA will be able to review the ads,” she added. In response to the study, Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Study and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), stated in a statement: “DTC advertising has been demonstrated to play a key role in educating and empowering patients, improving patient understanding of disease and available treatments, and fostering solid relationships between patients and their health-care providers. Unfortunately, the analysis released today in the brand new England Journal of Medicine all but overlooks these important contributions to patient health.””Surveys display that DTC advertising brings patients into their doctors’ offices and helps start important doctor-patient conversations about conditions that might otherwise move undiagnosed or untreated. In fact, a national survey by Prevention Magazine discovered that 29 million patients talked to their doctor for the first time about a health after viewing a DTC ad. The survey also found that of these patients, many discuss behavioral and changes in lifestyle and over fifty percent receive a recommendation for nonprescription or generic alternatives,” the statement said. Dr. A. Indicate Fendrick, a professor of health management plan at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, stated: “As the health-care consumerism movement encourages more data on cost and quality, it is increasingly vital that you consider the foundation of information.””This study confirms that direct-to-consumer marketing of drugs is here now to stay and can contribute to the info overload confronted by the typical consumer. Sufferers, clinicians and payers should interact to implement steps to increase the positive facet of DTC advertising —
increased utilization of drugs in all those most likely to benefit — while minimizing the safety concerns and unnecessary expense of inappropriate use,” this individual said.

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