70% OF U.S. ADULTS DON'T RESPOND TO DTC DRUG ADS

Rodale Presents Study at FDA Hearings

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Seventy percent of the country's adults have never asked for or demanded of their
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doctor a prescription drug they had seen in a direct-to-consumer advertisement, according to a study presented at Monday's Food and Drug Administration hearing.

The two-day hearing is being used as a public forum at which both sides of the hotly debated direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising issue can present their information.

Significant ad revenue
The study, performed by Rodale Inc., publishers of Prevention and Men's Health magazines, was conducted from 1997-2002 and entitled "Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medicines." Rodale magazines derive significant revenue from DTC drug advertising.

The cited 70% figure involved 2002. The study report said that the 30% of patients who did ask for or demand a prescription drug from their doctor was up only 1% from 1997, when the Food and Drug Administration announced its first broadcast guidelines concerning pharmaceutical companies and DTC promotion.

Earlier this year, a study commissioned by FDA found that 47% of U.S. physicians feel "a little or somewhat pressured" to prescribe the advertised drugs that patients request. Ninety-two percent of the doctors surveyed in that study said they had been asked for specific advertised drugs by patients.

A dozen speakers
The presentation of Rodale's report was one of 13 scheduled yesterday, the first of a critical two-day public hearing on the future of DTC advertising. At least a dozen speakers are scheduled for presentations today.

Most of the speakers who made presentations on Monday were generally in favor of DTC advertising, but some also had cautionary words for the FDA.

"You have to realize it's advertising," said Linda Golodner, president of the National Consumer's League. "Car dealers want to sell you a car. Pharmaceutical companies want to sell you their drug."

In her presentation, Ms. Golodner cited evidence that consumers were not taking away important health information from DTC broadcast spots, and some had difficulty in identifying which disease the drug was used for and its most serious or common risks.

In the end, however, Ms. Golodner said, "DTC advertising is a useful tool for patient-professional communication."

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