Survey sparks questions about DTC effectiveness

PRINCETON, NJ: Requests for brand-name drugs are made at the same rate in Europe as they are in the US, according to a new survey. The results may highlight the effectiveness of pharmaceutical marketing tactics other than direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.

PRINCETON, NJ: Requests for brand-name drugs are made at the same rate in Europe as they are in the US, according to a new survey. The results may highlight the effectiveness of pharmaceutical marketing tactics other than direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.

DTC marketing has become a staple of the pharmaceutical industry's US-based marketing efforts in recent years.

That finding came via the 2003 National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS), which was conducted by Consumer Health Sciences (CHS), Grey Healthcare Group's patient data company. Some 53,000 people responded, 36,000 in the US. Other countries included Germany, the UK, and France.

Results showed that about one in three patients in the US, where DTC ads have become common practice for pharmaceutical marketers, requests a specific drug from their physician. Yet the same proved true of respondents from France, Germany, and the UK, where manufacturers are prevented from advertising prescription drugs directly to consumers.

The data "shows that the way people learn goes well beyond DTC [advertising]," said Jane Donohue, who is the CEO of CHS.

Respondents cited newspapers, television, the internet, and advice from family and friends as the most popular sources for gathering information about healthcare.

Donohue said the survey results could leave pharmaceutical companies that have invested heavily in DTC advertising "scratching their heads.

"[DTC advertising] might not be driving as much new business as was previously thought," she said.

The NHWS gathers information on respondents' attitudes, opinions, behaviors, demographics and quality of life with regard to their healthcare habits. Participants are predetermined to be representative of each country's population.

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