- Drug ads are increasingly taking up a bigger portion
of drug companies' advertising budgets, a new study shows.
- The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine,
is based on data from the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.
- The researchers included Julie Donohue, PhD, of the University
of Pittsburgh's department of health policy and management.
- They compared drug companies' 1996 and 2005 spending
for direct-to-consumer drug ads shown on TV and web sites, played on radio
stations, and placed in magazines and newspapers.
- The study shows that in 2005, drug companies spent 330%
more on direct-to-consumer drug ads than in 1996.
- Even so, drug companies still spend more promoting drugs
directly to health care professionals, according to the study.
- Overall, drug companies spent $11.4 billion to promote
their drug products in 1996, compared to $29.9 billion in 2005. "Although
during that time spending on direct-to-consumer advertising increased by
330%, it made up only 14% of total promotional expenditures in 2005,"
Donohue's team writes.
- The researchers also report that the number of letters
sent by the FDA to drugmakers about violations of drug-advertising regulations
fell from 142 letters in 1997 to 21 letters in 2006.
- "This decline may reflect either better industry
compliance with advertising regulations or a worsening of FDA oversight,"
write Donohue and colleagues.
- The researchers didn't have data on every drug on the
- In the journal, Donohue reports receiving consulting
fees from the drug company GlaxoSmithKline and CanWest Global Communications,
a Canadian media company.
- Donohue, J. The New England Journal of Medicine, Aug.
16, 2007; vol 357: pp 673-681.
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