Essay Example: Direct-To-Consumer Advertising

Published: 2023-01-20
Essay Example: Direct-To-Consumer Advertising
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Advertising Sales Pharmacology Drug Marketing plan
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1785 words
15 min read

Direct-to-consumer advertising primarily refers to the process of marketing and advertising pharmaceutical products directly to patients as consumers as opposed to targeting healthcare professionals who prescribe the products to patients (Bar & Lillard, 2014). The advertisement of prescription medicines can take place in mass media platforms such as televisions, and magazines as well as in online platforms. Despite direct-to-consumer advertisement being legal in the US, it is subject to regulations concerning the balanced disclosure of the benefits of the prescription as compared to its risks among other factors set by the rules (Patwardhan, 2016). However, there exist many ethical and regulatory concerns behind direct-to-consumer advertisements of pharmaceutical products especially when it comes to the extent to which such ads may influence the prescription of medicines based on consumer preferences even when such prescriptions may not be necessary or in cases where other alternatives exist (Patwardhan, 2016). Critics against the direct-to-consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products argue that as a result of the increased ads of the prescriptions vast amounts of money is spent in marketing of medical products other than in research and development such that the costs of advertisement reached 26.9 billion USD in the year 2016 (Katherine Ellen Foley, 2019). Besides, the critics of direct-to-consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products argue that the ads allow drug companies to promote higher cost drugs at the expense of lower cost alternative thus downplaying risks and creating unrealistic expectations among patients (Dave & Saffer, 2010). Additionally, such advertising influences the prescription patterns among healthcare providers who further hike the cost of healthcare. On the other hand, the proponents of direct to consumer advertisements state that the practice leads to greater awareness of drugs that can improve and extend people's lives (Patwardhan, 2016). As a result of this conflicts surrounding direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceutical products, this paper looks at the advantages and disadvantages of direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceutical products among consumers, the potential or actual conflicts of interests that arise when pharmaceutical sales representatives market drugs to hospitals and medical care providers. Further, the paper will suggest ways to ensure that drug advertisements to consumers and its presentation to hospitals is primarily educational and not sales oriented, as well as propose changes to be made to reduce or limit the substantial increase of drug prices in the US.

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Advantages of Direct to Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising to Consumers

Just like argued by the proponents of direct to consumer advertising, the practice may have an array of advantages to not only the companies carrying out the adverts but also to the consumers who use the pharmaceutical products. Among the most significant benefit of direct to consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products to consumers include increased awareness of the potentially beneficial treatments sooner (Bar & Lillard, 2014). This is because sometimes doctors may not be aware of new medicines, but through such ads, patients can make them aware of the drug and through increased research the drug can be adopted by the doctors to treat various illnesses sooner. Further, the ads may create awareness of multiple medications that can be used to treat some common diseases such as flu and common cold that does not require the attention of a professional doctor in most cases and thus save them the consultation fees as well as the time taken to visit a health facility for treatment (Dumit, 2012).

Additionally, the direct-to-consumer advertisement can create more awareness among consumers and especially patients of the side effects that accompany the usage of various drugs as they are needed by the regulatory bodies to be listed in the adverts. By having such knowledge on side effects of the medicines they acquire over the counter, patients can know how to handle various medicines and when they can or not take certain drugs based on their body situations (Dumit, 2012). This case applies in the case of pregnant women who are not required to take certain drugs and were it not for such direct to consumer advertisements where they get to know of the side effects of such drugs, cases of terminated pregnancies due to the wrong usage of medical drugs could be on the rise.

Besides, consumers may get to know about the multiple uses of various drugs that they acquire over the counter and thus save them the money spent on acquiring other drugs that could still heal the same illness (Bar & Lillard, 2014). Also, through direct to consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products, consumers may be prompted to ask questions and conduct research about the various medical products they are offered as well as the symptoms they are trying to alleviate. Therefore through such knowledge from the consumers about the products, the advertising pharmaceutical companies can also benefit as this will increase sales revenue and profit margins.

Another advantage of direct to consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products to consumers is that it provides them with the knowledge that aids them in judging the benefits of the various products they are offered with competently (Bar & Lillard, 2014). This is because it is usual to have an industry giant that offers products that have become the way of life among the consumers and thus competing with such companies becomes difficult for small startup companies that have to fight for shelf space in pharmacies and other retail, medical outlets. However, through direct to consumer advertisement, consumers gain knowledge about the benefits of products from the small companies and thus get a variety of choices to get the best drug from. Furthermore, through the knowledge gained from the adverts, people can visit their doctors with health concerns and end up getting preventive treatment rather than waiting until they require lengthy treatments that they would not afford (Dumit, 2012).

Disadvantages of Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising to Consumers

However, there exist disadvantages that consumers are exposed to by the direct to consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products such as getting misleading information about drugs in cases where the consumers may not have sufficient knowledge to judge the benefits of the products presented with competently (Bar & Lillard, 2014). Thus they may end up misled by these direct to consumer adverts as they may overstate the advantages. Despite, the requirement by the regulatory bodies such as in The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic act for such advertisers to disclose certain information about the uses and risks of the products they put on such adverts, adverse effects of the product are commonly put in print that does not share equal prominence as the product's benefits thus making many consumers not to note the side effects (Dumit, 2012). Further, such advertisers sway customer's opinions by employing marketing techniques instead of seeking the assessment of experts in the specific field knowledgeable of the products benefit level when taking the products to the consumers directly.

Moreover, direct to consumer advertisement affects the consumers negatively as the ads end up pushing up the total cost of healthcare. This is because the adverts cost the drug manufacturing companies some considerable amounts of money, which they end up adding on the final prices of the products (Dave & Saffer, 2010). Further, as a result of the many patents and advertising costs, consumers end up acquiring the products at a higher price as compared to if the adverts were not involved which further raises the overall cost of healthcare. Additionally, the direct to consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products leads to unrealistic expectations among the consumers as they visit their physicians with the expectations that the drugs will perform as stated in the adverts. As a result of the exaggeration that characterizes adverts, they end up with frustrations when the drugs do not perform as stated (Dumit, 2012).

Furthermore, the direct to consumer advertisement of pharmaceutical products have increased the general perception among patients that every condition has a drug to treat it and that drugs are the best way to treat every condition (Bar & Lillard, 2014). The perception has led to most people living unhealthy lives with the expectations that drugs are always there to treat them in case of any illness. Additionally, the direct to consumer adverts on pharmaceutical products has led to an increase in overdose cases due to the increased interactions with drugs as well as consumers using drugs that may not be appropriate for their conditions due to the wishy-washy or pressed for time doctors who result into prescribing certain medicines to avoid arguments with patients that insist for certain drugs (Dumit, 2012).

Potential and Actual Conflict of Interests When Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives Market Drugs to Hospital Representatives and Medical Providers

There exists various actual and potential conflict of interests when pharmaceutical representatives market drugs to hospital representatives and medical providers. Among the actual conflicts of interest include increased persuasion to the hospital representatives and medical providers by the pharmaceutical representatives to give their drug brands an upper hand during prescriptions during their interaction (Wright & Lundstrom, 2004). These persuasions have greatly affected the prescription patterns among some of the medical care providers as well as biased availability of some brands in the hospitals since some of this representatives may offer the drugs at a discounted and thus require their prescriptions to have the upper hand even when they are not the most appropriate for the condition. Further, there is the risk of increased conflict of interests when these pharmaceutical representatives give handouts or collaborating with pharmaceutical sales representatives to sell and prescribe certain drug brands in individual hospitals (Patwardhan, 2016). If this happens, there is a high probability of increased healthcare cost as well as compromised care as these physicians and hospitals have to ensure the drugs sells.

Suggestions to Ensure Drug Adverts are Educational rather than Sales Oriented

With the increasing prominence of the internet and social media as well as their growing importance as a source of health information, the pharmaceutical industry has moved to the digital channels (Gibson, 2014). Due to the ready availability of this information online, there is the need to regulate how drug's adverts to consumers are carried out as well as in their presentation to hospital representatives and other medical providers is primarily educational other than sales oriented (Gibson, 2014). Although all adverts in the US whether digitally or through the traditional methods are subjected to regulations to prohibit misleading information, there is the need for additional restrictions in the DTCA for prescription drugs due to the particular safety concerns that are connected to these products (Sheehan, 2019).

First, there is need to restrict all DTCA for prescription drugs to take either the format of reminder adverts that only include the brand name of the drug without any reference to health claims or hints about the usage of the drug by prohibiting the listing of medical specialties of such drugs whether through televisions or on social media platforms (Gibson, 2014).

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