Nathalie Bravo Batista
The regulatory change in which the FDA lifted restrictions on TV ads for prescription drugs in 1997 has affected the market for pharmaceuticals in several ways. The increased use of unregulated mass media advertising for prescription drugs has had a negative effect on the market. Advertising drugs without including lengthy disclaimers explaining the often-numerous side effects tend to mislead consumers into taking costly prescription drugs that they do not need and that in seeking to sell products, pharmaceutical marketers turn normal human experiences with things like hair loss or shyness into diseases. The deregulation has also resulted in the industry, through advertisements, providing biased educational material and emotional appeals that promote drugs over healthy alternatives. In addition, it has a negative influence on the people’s perceptions of health and how it should be maintained or regained. The advertisements promote drugs over healthy lifestyles.
Currently, more money is spent on marketing drugs than on marketing surgery or psychotherapy since marketing drugs happen to have an almost immediate impact on sales and profits. Many people are likely to go for subscription or over the counter drugs as opposed to surgery or psychotherapy. Also, there is less and often lose regulations on drug advertising as compared to the other products which often have lengthy restrictions. Besides, it is possible to engage in product differentiation when dealing with drugs as opposed to the other services. The role of pharmaceutical marketing within distribution control should be to provide accurate information regarding the drugs that are being advertised.
Overall, pharmaceutical marketing should be highly regulated to ensure the safety of the consumers. There is need to educate patients to be more knowledgeable about their health and health care and to communicate better with their physicians. The public should also have a greater accessibility to unbiased information in order to provide informed consent and make smart decisions.
Henderson, J. (2018). Health Economics and Policy (7th ed.). Cengage Learning. https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). The impact of direct-to-consumer advertising. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-consumers-and-patients-drugs/impact-direct-consumer-advertising
Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) was illegal prior to 1996. Most pharmaceutical advertising was directed to physicians by office visits, providing free samples, sponsoring seminars and funding research to educate the physicians about the benefits of the new drugs. Now the fastest growing area of pharmaceutical advertising is the direct-to-consumer with approximately 40% of the promotion and advertising expenditure at $6.1 billion in 2015 (Henderson, 2018).
The policy allowing DTCA has changed the market by allowing the consumers to be aware of current treatments available. This provides for an educated consumer and promotes communication with their physicians about their health issues (Henderson, 2018).
I think money spent on marketing drugs is more than monies spent on surgery or psychotherapy because it is easy to take medication versus surgery, second, treatment of an illness or disease through medication can increase overall long-term health for the patient themselves and for the community/population.
For example, simvastatin is a medication that lowers cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol in patients will also lower their chance of a heart attack. The cost of simvastatin is approximately $9.00 for a 30-day supply, which equals to about $108.00 a year (Prescription Prices, Coupons & Pharmacy Information, n.d.). The cost of a heart attack is approximately $55,000, which does not include additional outpatient follow-up visits (Cropper, 2017). Each year the United States spends $219 billion on heart disease costs (Heart Disease Facts, 2020).). More money may be spent in advertising for medications, but it may be lowering the cost of total healthcare spending.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 8). Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.
Cropper, C. M. (n.d.). Uninsured heart attack, stroke patients face ‘catastrophic’ costs. UT Southwestern Medical Center. https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/articles/year-2017/uninsured-heart-attack.html.
Henderson, J. W. (2018). Health economics and policy. Cengage.
Prescription Prices, Coupons & Pharmacy Information. GoodRx. (n.d.). https://www.goodrx.com/.