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Media and Communications

Direct to consumer advertising

Direct to consumer advertising


At some point, you’ve probably seen a commercial
with green meadows, sunshine, and smiling attractive people, celebrating a prescription
drug! The ad usually suggests that you “ask your
doctor today about” that drug, before rattling off a long list of side effects. These kinds of advertisements are a form of
direct-to-consumer advertising, or DTCA, which means that the ad comes directly from pharmaceutical
companies and is directed at consumers like you and me. Although it may feel normal, DTCA is currently
only legal in two countries; the United States and New Zealand. In the United States, DTCA of prescription
medications took off in 1997, when the FDA eased restrictions. Now, the pharmaceutical industry spends over
$5 billion annually on DTCA. There are two major views on DTCA. Some people believe the ads are perfectly
ethical because they simply inform the public of available treatment options for diseases. Conversely, many others believe that the commercials
serve to convince people, who aren’t trained in medicine, to request expensive, and often
risky and unnecessary treatments. What’s your view? If you’re interested in clinical pharmacology
check us out on Osmosis.org where you can access our high-yield pharmacology playlist.

8 thoughts on “Direct to consumer advertising

  1. Well, as part of the rest of the world I agree with 2. We even have some beastly restrictions on advertising to doctors.

  2. I have no opinion toward DTC ads as a training physician, however personally I would do my research if I wanted to consume a drug that was recommended to me by a pharmaceutical company

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