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Prescription drug marketers spent more than $1 billion through November on advertising created to reach U.S. consumers, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Yet consumers find most of the advertising a little hard to swallow, according to a national study conducted by CME Health, the healthcare unit of Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis.

A recent poll of 1,000 people to determine what is remembered and liked in direct-to-consumer pharma- ceutical advertising reveals:

1.Most pharmaceutical marketing dollars are spent on ineffective messages. Surprisingly few consumers responded favorably to the advertising for the 18 brands in the survey.

2.The advertising scored a 33% aided awareness, with several brands exceeding 60% awareness levels.

3.For 15 of the 18 brands in the survey, consumers were twice as apt to strongly dislike the ads as to strongly like them.

4.Most pharmaceutical ads have little impact on those most likely to buy the products. Consumers who either personally suffered or had family members who suffered from a specific ailment were no more positive toward relevant drug ads.

5.Patients, just like the general public, were most likely to give the ads a neutral rating, indicating a lack of interest and involvement in the advertising.

"Prozac, Viagra and Allegra are proof that ad spending, especially coupled with publicity, will generate awareness," says Beth Miller, senior VP-director of CME Health. "But the hurdle most pharmaceutical marketers have yet to clear is

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