Skip to Content

Most consumers support DTC advertising, but seek assurance on approval integrity, benefits vs. risks

NEW YORK, N.Y., April 28, 2005 -- Although questions remain about the benefits of direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising following the withdrawal of Vioxx and most recently Bextra from the market, seven out of 10 adults in the U.S. agree that drug manufacturers should be able to advertise their branded prescription drugs directly to consumers, according to a recent survey by the Health Division of Ipsos-Insight.

Even with the safety issues that have surfaced in the months following the demise of the Cox-2 inhibitor class, consumer support for drug advertising is consistent with the belief that the benefits of prescription drugs outweigh the risks associated with taking them. In the latest Ipsos survey, conducted in March 2005 among a U.S. representative sample of 1,000 adults 18+, 69% of respondents confirmed that they recognize the tradeoffs in safety versus risks when it comes to prescription drug use.

"Americans want as much information as they can obtain when it comes to managing their healthcare," says Fariba Zamaniyan, Vice President and spokesperson for Ipsos-Insight's health practice. "The privatized healthcare system in the U.S. further empowers consumers and patients to become a part of the decision-making process when it comes to the treatment of their respective chronic and episodic health needs."

"Advertising has become an accepted channel for communicating the availability of treatment alternatives including prescription drug solutions, which ultimately, presents the opportunity to pursue a choice of therapy. Given the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drug therapy, it's also no surprise that consumers want to have as much information as they can get and to be assured they know about all the options available for their healthcare since they're paying for it."

Consumers keenly aware of benefits vs. risks

Cognizant of the benefit versus risk tradeoffs, consumers continue to demand assurance and renewed confidence in the accuracy and effectiveness of the drug approval process. Now more than ever before, consumers are informed and want more evidence to secure their trust in drug safety and the agencies that monitor them. Nine out of ten of the adults surveyed agree that the FDA should require drug manufacturers to conduct additional studies on the safety of prescription products once they are on the market.

"But, there's still a lot of work to do. Although supportive of drug advertising, adults in the U.S. need to be reassured of the objective of drug advertising and the benefits versus risks of the products being promoted," Zamaniyan said.

The majority of the respondents in the Ipsos survey most closely associate prescription drug advertising as "only a sales tool" and "annoying". Consumers least associate drug advertising with descriptors such as "trustworthy" and "believable." These beliefs may further be reinforced by the 53% who agree that drug ads are a key driver behind the rising cost of prescription medications. In fact, four in five adults agreed that prescription drug prices are one of the leading reasons behind the rising cost of health care. Nearly two thirds strongly believed this statement.

"What this begs for is more education, both from manufacturers as well as government," said Zamaniyan. "Given the nature of our society, Americans want advertising because they expect to be informed by any medium that is feasible and easy to understand. In addition to providing disease education, the public expects drug manufacturers and their governing agencies to make them well informed of the drug discovery process and the availability of treatment alternatives to achieve positive health outcomes and support longevity. Advertising enables this execution with its broad reach."

"It's also clear that Americans want drug companies to address their growing concerns of rising drug costs. Perhaps the most immediate response by manufacturers is an aggressive communications initiative to provide details and direction in language that is easy to understand, about the variety of discount programs currently available to patients in need which are not exclusive to the senior population" further stated Zamaniyan.

Survey methodology

Data for this report was gathered from March 9 to 11, 2005. Respondent interviews were conducted among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults 18+ years of age nationwide using Ipsos U.S. Express, a telephone omnibus survey. The study was conducted and paid for by Ipsos.

Source: Ipsos-Insight Health

Posted: April 2005