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Analysis by the US National Bureau of Economic Research

The risk-benefit profile of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, banned in Europe but permitted in the United States, is good. This is what emerges from an analysis signed by Dhaval Dave of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Even overseas, therefore, we continue to study and wonder whether television commercials and promotions can have negative effects on public health. “There is an idea – explains Dave – that advertising for prescription medicines is not a good thing for consumers and that it can upset the relationship between patient and doctor. But some studies show that when consumers are exposed to these ads , on the contrary they are led to visit the doctor, to understand that there are treatments for their symptoms and that only contact with the doctor can be useful to help them.So this is surprising, because so far many organizations have focused on the negative aspects of these promotions.

A 2005 study found that every $28 increase in advertising funds leads to an extra doctor visit within a year of being prescribed the advertised product. Another research has instead highlighted, since 2010, an increase in the reporting of adverse events for drugs belonging to the most publicized categories, such as anti-arthritis and antidepressants.

The new direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising survey has also found benefits such as substantial awareness among patients about their disease and improved adherence to treatment, as commercials reinforce perceptions of the efficacy of medicines and remind patients to take them. However, there are signs relating to the risk of improper prescriptions and greater public pharmaceutical expenditure.

Barbara Di Chiara – February 28, 2013 – PharmaKro

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