Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 3-22-2017


The Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of pharmaceutical firms has been defined as an attempt of pharmaceutical companies to advertise products directly to patients (comsumers). Pharmaceutical DTCA has been criticized due to its inappropriateness and some urged the need to strengthen regulations. The DTCA has an impact on the public from both a benefit and harm concern. The purpose of this study is to investigate the current trend of pharmaceutical DTCA in the US and its effect on patients, physicians, and drug utilization. The methodology used in the research is literature review and semi-structured interview. The pharmaceutical DTCA showed reduction in total spending with the television advertising as the biggest channel of DTCA. The small channel market of advertising was the online approach where three-digit growth of 109% was demonstrated. The DTCA affected the physician-patient relationship as well as patient satisfaction. Patients who received the medication associated with DTCA showed higher satisfaction by 43% compared to those receiving other medications. The under-diagnosed conditions, such as depression, could potentially benefit from pharmaceutical DTCA by increasing the awareness regarding those diseases. The advertising of Tegaserod, a medication for irritable bowel syndrome indicated the increasing awareness of the disease along with increasing numbers of Tegaserod prescriptions. The increase of drug utilization by pharmaceutical DTCA seemed to be beneficial in the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy. The advertising of second line drugs resulted in an increase of the first line drug utilization by two times compared to the second line drug utilization. The benefit of pharmaceutical DTCA included enhancing appropriate drug utilization by increasing awareness due to diseases such as benign prostatic hypertrophy. The DTCA might cause potential harm by interfering with a physician’s decision regarding prescription drug choice. Additional studies should focus on the type and content of DTCA. The limitation of the study was lack of available data on pharmaceutical DTCA spending to the public.


This conference paper was delivered at Business and Health Administration Association 2017 Meeting in Chicago, IL March 22-24. Copyright © 2017 BHAA. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.