'

DrugWonks on Twitter

DrugWonks on Facebook

CMPI Videos


Video Montage of Third Annual Odyssey Awards Gala Featuring Governor Mitch Daniels, Montel Williams, Dr. Paul Offit and CMPI president Peter Pitts


Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels


Montel Williams, Emmy Award-Winning Talk Show Host


Paul Offit, M.D., Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for Leadership in Transformational Medicine


CMPI president Peter J. Pitts


CMPI Web Video: "Science or Celebrity"

Social Networks



Please Follow the Drugwonks Blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube & RSS




Add This Blog to my Technorati Favorites
Political Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Tabloid Medicine

Please Check out the latest book by
Dr. Robert Goldberg Ph.D.
"Tabloid Medicine"

Check Out CMPI's Book

Physician Disempowerment:
A Transatlantic Malaise

Edited By: Peter J. Pitts
Download the E-Book Version
Here

CMPI Events

Donate

CMPI Reports

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
AHRP

Better Health
BigGovHealth
Biotech Blog
BrandweekNRX
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum

Club For Growth
CNEhealth.org

Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
eDrugSearch
Envisioning 2.0
EyeOnFDA
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
fightingdiseases.org
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gooznews
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
IgniteBlog
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Instapundit
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
KevinMD
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
Medrants
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Newsbusters
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
PAL
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmablogger
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmagossip
Pharmamotion
Pharmalot
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Polipundit
Powerline
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Quackwatch
Real Clear Politics
Remedyhealthcare

Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
StateHouseCall.org
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst

The Lonely Conservative
TortsProf
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog
 


Fake DTC news mustn't drive the healthcare debate

2017-03-27 | Peter Pitts
Policy development by sound bite is becoming a chronic disease. Exhibit A: “Pharma spends more on marketing and sales than on R&D.”

The Washington Post wrote about it.

John Oliver talked about it.

Legislators are fixated on it.

Letters to the Wall Street Journal complained about it.

Let’s look at the record – because the devil is in the details – and it starts with what “sales and marketing” means.

When pundits, politicians, and policymakers speak about “sales and marketing,” the picture they are painting is of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising – the public face of Big Pharma. So, let’s set the record straight on that straight away. In 2016 $5.6 billion was spent on DTC. Same period R&D spending is roughly $70 billion. Amorous middle-aged couples in claw foot bathtubs are a lot sexier than excel spreadsheets, but facts are pesky things. Surprised?

Here’s another eye-opener, the category of “marketing and sales” also includes product sampling and communications to physicians, legal and accounting fees, salaries, rent and utilities, and all post-licensure programs deemed necessary by the FDA. Nuts and bolts aren’t cheap. It’s also important to understand that the R&D reported investment is only for pre-approval investment and doesn't take into consideration post approval R&D expenditures, which were $20 billion in 2011 and most likely, much higher today.

But let’s address the elephant in the room – DTC advertising. Yes – it’s good for business (otherwise it wouldn't exist) but it’s also good for the public health. And, no, it doesn’t make medicines more expensive.

The good news is that an informed healthcare consumer is a healthier citizen.  And while information comes from many sources outside of the physician’s office – one of the most pervasive channels is through direct-to-consumer advertising.

Properly done, pharmaceutical advertising helps to de-stigmatize certain diseases and encourages people to talk with their doctors about problems previously considered taboo -- like depression. Other research demonstrated little or no correlation between a brand's DTC spending and it's cost. In other words, brands that spend more heavily on DTC advertising do not necessarily cost more than their less-advertised competition.

FDA research, of patients who visited their doctors because of an ad they saw, and who asked about that prescription drug by brand name, 87 percent actually had the condition the drug treats. And in 6 percent of those DTC-generated visits, a previously undiagnosed condition was discovered. Why is that so important? Because earlier detection combined with appropriate treatment means that more people will live longer, healthier, more productive lives without having to confront riskier, more costly medical interventions later on.

Only 7 percent of doctors said they felt "very pressured to prescribe" a particular advertised drug. When the FDA panel probed into the question of "pressure to prescribe," what we found out was that the real pressure was time pressure. More patients are coming in armed with more questions. A study in Health Affairs arrived at a similar conclusion. According to the study, ad- inspired doctor visits resulted in the advertised medicine being prescribed in only about 47 per cent of cases. Put another way, patients didn't get a prescription for the medicine they came in to discuss on more than half their visits. Even with advertising, doctors exert appropriate judgment when they prescribe drugs.

According to the FDA study, a majority of doctors feel that DTC advertising increases patient awareness and involvement, improves compliance, and enhances the overall doctor-patient relationship. But we can - we must - do better. Health care information is the consumer's Rosetta Stone, and the FDA, public policy institutes, pharmaceutical firms, communications professionals, health care providers, disease organizations, patient advocates, academics along with state and federal legislators must help design 21st century DTC advertising that not only helps to sell product, but also advances the public health.