Are DTC Ads Being Mischaracterized?

Dec. 28, 2015 – The supposed ill effects of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising are being levied without much evidence, according to a recent article by Robert Palmer, EVP, director of Digital and Video for JUICE Pharma Worldwide. The well-balanced article, “The DTC Advertising Dilemma,” posted on the JUICE blog Dec. 14, discusses the recent American Medical Association ban on DTC advertising and includes quotes from Coalition for Healthcare Communication Executive Director John Kamp.

Palmer points out that there are many factors that contribute to the current scrutiny of DTC ads, including presidential campaign rhetoric and the public’s misperceptions that drug ads are driving higher drug prices and that those drug prices are leading to significantly greater healthcare costs. However, Palmer notes that “money spent on drugs amounts to 9% of the $3 trillion we spend on healthcare each year. While that percentage is not a trivial sum, it’s hardly the main culprit for runaway healthcare costs.”

Kamp explained in the article that calls for more regulation of DTC ads are unnecessary. “DTC currently is the most aggressively regulated advertising available. This is clear from the careful and lengthy side effect disclosures in every broadcast ad,” he said. “Eliminating these ads would keep consumers in the dark about both the benefits and side effects of medicine.” He added that DTC ads help with patient drug adherence and that they assist patients in recognizing symptoms and in finding treatment for their conditions.

At the end of the article, which included arguments on both sides of the issue, Palmer concluded that “The call for increased DTC regulation short changes the consumer by limiting consumers’ ability to gather information and make good choices.” He stated his hope that “cooler heads will prevail and we can continue to give the healthcare consumer what he or she deserves: balanced, validated, easily accessible, useful drug and disease information.”

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