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Money Spent on Direct-to-Consumer Ads

In 2006, drug-makers spent almost $5 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising, up from $2.6 billion in 2002.

  • A survey of 834 office-based physicians found that 28% of doctors said patients “frequently” asked for prescription drugs by name after seeing an advertisement.
  • USA Today, in a national survey, pegged the portion of folks who ask their doctors about an advertised medicine at nearly 1 in 3.
  • Of those who asked their doctors, 82% said their doctors wound up recommending a prescription and 44% gave the one they’d asked about.
  • A 2007 study analyzing the messages of 38 advertisements then running during prime-time TV found that 95% used emotional appeals to sell the medication, often framing prescription-drug use as a means to regain lost control over some aspect of life.
  • Zero messages suggested lifestyle change as an alternative to prescription use, roughly 1 in 5 proposed it as a useful complement to the drug, and only 1 in 4 explained the causes of the disease the advertised drug treats.
  • For every 10% increase in direct-to-consumer ads within a class of similar drugs, sales of those drugs went up 1% according to a 2003 study.
  • In 2000, direct-to-consumer ads alone boosted drug sales 12%, at an additional cost of $2.6 billion to consumers and insurers.