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Physicians have mixed opinions about consumer-targeted pharmaceutical ads

influenced by their patients to prescribe DTCA drugs. In instances when the DTCA drug was prescribed, 46 percent of physicians thought it was the most effective option, while 48 percent thought it was as effective as other medications and wanted to accommodate their patient's request. They generally predicted positive outcomes for their patients, although 20 percent thought the DTCA drug would have no effect on overall health. Only 5 percent of respondents reported accommodating a patient's request for a DTCA drug when another treatment would have been more effective, a result that the researchers said was of concern, however small.

Weissman explains, "From a public health perspective, DTCA is a blunt tool providing much-needed patient education and encouragement to see doctors about important health conditions but possibly leading patients to seek treatment they do not need, according to our survey. Given concerns over the rising cost of health care, we need to learn more about what happens when a patient asks for an advertised drug and how doctors present the tradeoffs between different treatment strategies and their effect on patients' health as well as their pocketbook."


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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
28-Apr-2004


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