Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose – The purpose of the review is to investigate the current trend of pharmaceutical Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) in the US and its effect on patients, physicians, and drug utilization. DTCA by pharmaceutical firms may be defined as an attempt by pharmaceutical companies to advertise products directly to patients.

Design/methodology/approach – Methodology for this paper is a literature review approach.

Findings – Pharmaceutical DTCA demonstrated a reduction in total spending, while the online channel media experienced growth. DTCA has influenced the physician-patient relationship and patient satisfaction. Patients who received medication associated with DTCA showed higher satisfaction. DTCA of second-line drugs increased first-line drug utilization. Benefits of pharmaceutical DTCA include enhancing appropriate drug utilization and increasing awareness. DTCA might cause harm by interfering with physician decisions regarding drug choice.

Research limitations – Limitations include the availability of information on DTCA spending by pharmaceutical companies and the lack of quantitative data on the effect of pharmaceutical DTCA. Additionally, DTCA is sometimes affected by research bias.

Practical implication – Improvement in the physician-patient relationship and patient satisfaction, as well as improvement in the quality of care provided may be demonstrated.

Social implication – Pharmaceutical firms utilizing DTCA marketing advertisement methodologies can increase awareness of under-diagnosed conditions, affect medication costs, and the utilization of appropriate drug utilization.

Originality/Value – Literature review highlights current relationships between DTCA, patients, physicians, and drug utilization to explore the effects DTCA has on consumers.


This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

doi: 10.1108/IJPHM-04-2017-0019