FDA: FEW DOCTOR VISITS DESPITE DRUG ADS

5% of Consumers See Physicians Because of DTC Efforts

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BOSTON (AdAge.com) --Though direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs has increased consumer awareness, few actually visited their doctors because of a promotion for a specific medication, according to preliminary findings from the Food and Drug Administration released today.

The FDA study also found that doctors appear slightly less willing to comply with patient requests for particular drugs than they were three years ago.

Results were based on telephone interviews with 943 people who had been to doctors recently. In a 1999 survey, 1,089 were polled.

Doctors visits
According to the

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study, only 5% of respondents said they had visited their doctors because of a drug advertisement, and 4% said they went because they wanted the drug they had seen promoted. There was no corresponding data from 1999.

The study said 48% of respondents said their doctors gave them a prescription they had asked about, down from 50% three years ago, while 23% reported not being given the prescription -- a question not asked in 1999. Of those surveyed, 32% said their doctors recommended a different drug, compared with 33% previously.

Of those who saw their doctors about a promotion for a medication to treat a specific illness, 27% were concerned they might have the illness described, while 19% wondered if a drug could help them. The results found 23% asked for a specific brand, while 7% asked about drugs to treat a specific condition.

Kathryn Aikin of the FDA's division of drug marketing, advertising and communications presented the findings at the DTC National Conference and Exposition in Boston.

Higher consumer recall
The report showed higher recall for advertisements, with respondents remembering benefits, side effects and who should avoid the drugs, but that they were less cognizant of dosage than they were in 1999.

The study did not address whether patients believed they received better care because of DTC ads, nor if more drugs were being prescribed because of the commercials.

Ms. Aikin said a similar survey of doctors will try to examine whether medicine was being prescribed unnecessarily.

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