News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

A fifth of Americans contact their doctor as a result of drug advertising

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 19 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:854
  1. Scott Gottlieb
  1. New York

    One in five Americans says that direct to consumer advertising prompted them to call or visit their doctor to discuss an advertised drug, a new consumer survey has found.

    The August PharmTrends survey by the US market research firm Ipsos-NPD also shows that 50% of consumers recalled seeing advertising for prescription drugs in the previous 12 months. This was up from 47% in the first PharmTrends survey, conducted in February 2002.

    Sildenafil (Viagra) tops the list for advertisement recall among consumers: 98% of purchasers of Viagra remembered seeing an advertisement for the product. Celecoxib (Celebrex), with a recall of 78% of buyers, came at the bottom of the top 10 drugs.

    “The information is still telling us that consumers are accepting and actually eager to find information about prescription drugs,” said Fariba Zamaniyan, director of the PharmTrends survey. “Our results show that prescription drug advertising pays off, not only by enhancing branded prescription drug awareness and encouraging trial use but also by reminding patients to fill or refill their prescriptions,” he said.

    PharmTrends surveyed 25 182 respondents, a statistically representative sample of the US population. The occasional survey tracks consumer awareness of and reaction to direct to consumer advertising by the pharmaceutical industry.

    Among the survey's other findings:

    • 22% of respondents said that direct to consumer advertising made them aware of potential drug options for their condition. This was down from 25% in the February poll and may represent seasonal variation in advertising

    • 12% of respondents said that direct to consumer advertising prompted them to ask their doctor about the prescription drug they saw advertised. This was down from 15% in the February poll

    • 10% of respondents said that drug advertising reminded them to refill a prescription

    • 5% said that they were prompted to switch from their current drug to a different drug that they had seen advertised.

    These trends may become clearer once the firm has completed the third poll in the tracking series, Zamaniyan said. The February 2003 poll will provide a third snapshot of consumer behaviour and enable year to year comparisons.

    Ipsos-NPD is a unit of the Paris based global market research conglomerate Ipsos, which specialises in media, advertising, and market research and conducts public opinion polling.

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