But Warns of Inadequate Side Effects Notification

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WASHINGTON ( -- For the second time in a week a major study has examined the effects of direct to consumer prescirption drug advertising, with mixed results for advertisers.

The new study released today suggests the ads are getting people to talk to their doctors about health problems and, in some cases, to ask for prescriptions for advertised brands.

Not always a prescription
The study,

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But Full Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Campaigns Unclear
by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which works on health-related issues, says the resulting patient-doctor dialogue doesn't always lead to prescriptions. While nearly a third of adults have talked to a doctor about an advertised drug, one in eight adults received a prescription in response to seeing a drug ad.

The study reports that 40% of people surveyed said that after seeing an ad, they were more likely to talk to their doctor about the health condition mentioned.

At the same time, the study offered some not-so-good news for advertisers.

Side effcts and education
It suggested the current ads may not adequately get across potential side effects for drugs and that the results of consumer education on health issues is mixed, depending in part on how aware they were of the condition previously.

Scott Serota, president-CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, said in a statement, "The Kaiser survey raises serious questions about the value and appropriateness of this form of advertising and whether the ads are creating better-informed consumers. DTC drug advertising should be designed to educate consumers to make informed health care decisions, not merely to sell more drugs."

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America issued a statement today saying the study shows DTC ads play "a valuable role" in educating consumers and "is good for patients and good for the public health."

Pfizer today released its own study saying DTC ads help motivate people to get and take their medicines.

Congressional action
The studies come amid indications that Congress may look at measures to curb DTC ads as it examines using Medicaid to reimburse seniors for drugs.

At least one proposal early this year suggested one way to keep down reimbursement costs and to lessen DTC ads was to limit payment for any heavily advertised DTC drug.

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