DTC Spending Growth to Continue, Research Company Says

A A

Drug company spending on DTC advertising will continue to increase, although drugmakers are worried about potential legislation that would restrict the advertisements, research company Guideline said in a new report.

In 2006, DTC advertising spending rose 9 percent to approximately $4.5 billion, with much of the increase attributable to insomnia medications such as Lunesta and Rozerem, Guideline said. The company interviewed 68 pharmaceutical executives and 1,000 consumers in January to determine the influence of DTC advertising on consumer and company behavior.

Eighty-two percent of the executives said their budgets for DTC advertising would stay the same or increase in 2007. However, the executives added that their biggest concern was government restriction on DTC advertising, such as the requirements included in H.R.1561 and S.484, the "Enhancing Drug Safety and Innovation Act."

The House version of the bill would ban DTC advertisements for new medications for up to three years, while its Senate counterpart calls for a two-year restriction.

While the most common source of medical information was physicians, 42 percent of consumers interviewed said they had received information from DTC advertisements in the past year, Guideline said. Eight percent of consumers went to the FDA website for information.

DTC advertisements also have an influence on what medications patients end up taking, the study said. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they had discussed advertised medications with their physicians, and slightly less than half of those discussions led to prescriptions of those medications.

Nearly half of the consumers interviewed visited websites about specific conditions and medications after seeing DTC advertisements, Guideline added. The company predicted that the internet will become more important for advertising in the next few years and said companies should develop branded websites for their products. ( http://www.fdanews.com/did/6_64/ )