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Direct-to-Consumer ads of medicaments are booming despite criticism


Drug company shelling out for direct-to-consumer advertising continues to skyrocket, even while criticisms against this have soared. Calling meant for a moratorium, rather than just restrictions, on this kind of marketing might be to be able, state the authors of a study in the Aug. 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.”Direct-to-consumer marketing spending is increasing when it comes to its share of total marketing budget, but it’s still a smaller sized share in accordance with promotion aimed at influencing prescribers,” stated study writer Julie M. Donohue, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Wellness. The U. S. Food and Medication Administration started permitting direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications on television 10 years ago. After that, dots of Dorothy Hamill and Sally Field peddling Vioxx and Boniva, respectively, cartoon characters illustrating the consequences of the antidepressant Zoloft, and an array of similar promotions have become commonplace on American Television screens and in other mass media. But so, too, has criticism of the practice. Skeptics say that direct-to-consumer marketing encourages overuse of medicines and drives up drug spending. The controversy reached critical proportions when the arthritis drug Vioxx, probably the most heavily promoted medications ever, was withdrawn from the marketplace in 2004 because of serious cardiovascular risks.”It’s been a decade since the FDA clarified its policy regarding broadcast advertising and unleashed direct-to-consumer marketing on television, which was new,” Donohue said. “We wished to observe, in the wake of the Vioxx withdrawal and an increased focus on the basic safety of drugs and a concentrate on medication costs in light of the implementation of the new Medicare drug advantage, what industry and the FDA were doing regarding advertising.”Because of this analysis, Donohue and her co-workers looked at pharmaceutical company shelling out for direct-to-consumer advertising and promotion 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 marketing increased by 330 percent, yet this type of advertising only produced up 14 percent of total marketing expenditures. These mass-media advertising blitzes generally start before a drug’s safety background has been established available on the market, the researchers said.”For the majority of heavily advertised medicines, direct-to-consumer advertising starts within about a yr of FDA authorization and typically prior to the basic safety profile has been established,” Donohue stated. 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 pill Lunesta ($214 million), accompanied by the cholesterol-lowering statins Vytorin ($155 million) and Crestor ($144 million), then 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 in least one item that was promoted through DTC marketing. Manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors, statins and erythropoietin medications (drugs such as for example Procrit, which increase red blood cellular counts) spent 34 percent, 34 percent and 31 percent of their total advertising budget on direct-to-consumer marketing in 2005, respectively.”In nearly all top-selling classes, in least one drug is advertised to consumers and in over fifty percent of the classes multiple medicines are advertising to consumers, so that it really does perform a major role,” Donohue said. “DTC marketing is used for a small subset of drugs, whereas other types of advertising like ‘detailing’ [person-to-person meetings] and totally free samples are used by manufacturers for virtually all branded products.”The antidepressants referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as 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).Simultaneously, Donohue stated, “The FDA’s monitoring of drug advertising has not kept pace with the quantity of advertising of prescription drugs. The amount of warning letters venturing out to drug companies has decreased markedly [from 142 in 1997 to 21 in 2006], and the amount of FDA staff responsible for advertisements was relatively flat in recent years, in spite of spending raises.”It might be that the rules themselves are sufficient, but that enforcement powers are not.”My look at is that the marketing rules that are on the book right now are adequate. Prescription drug ads are among the most heavily regulated advertisements if you look at all other consumer items,” Donohue said. “However the enforcement of the regulations must be there as well, and resources necessary for reviewing advertisements need to be sufficient.””And drug manufacturers don’t need to have FDA approval 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 analysis, Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Study and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), said in a statement: “DTC advertising has been shown to play a key role in educating and empowering sufferers, improving patient knowledge of disease and obtainable treatments, and fostering strong relationships between individuals and their health-care providers. Unfortunately, the study released today in the brand new England Journal of Medicine all but overlooks these essential contributions to patient wellness.””Surveys show that DTC advertising brings patients into their doctors’ offices and helps start essential doctor-patient conversations about conditions that might otherwise go undiagnosed or untreated. In fact, a national survey by Prevention Magazine found that 29 million sufferers talked with their doctor for the first time about a health after viewing a DTC advertisement. The survey also discovered that of these patients, the majority of discuss behavioral and changes in lifestyle and over fifty percent receive a recommendation for non-prescription or generic alternatives,” the declaration 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 source of information.””This research confirms that direct-to-consumer advertising of medications is here now to stay and will contribute to the information overload confronted by the normal consumer. Patients, clinicians and payers should work together to implement steps to maximize the positive facet of DTC advertising —
increased use of drugs in all those most likely to benefit — while minimizing the safety worries and unnecessary expenditure of inappropriate use,” this individual said.


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