Drug Buyers Motivated by Ads, Access

Patients may be more inclined to heal themselves, thanks to the proliferation of direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical ads and unrestricted access to online drugstores. Related reports indicate an increase in prescription drug recall, which might be motivating consumers to shop at online pharmacies – many of which are unlicensed.

“Given the amount of advertising for prescription drugs today versus what was on the airwaves and in print a year ago, its not surprising that more consumers recall seeing a prescription drug ad,” said Fariba Zamaniyan, director for Ipsos PharmTrends. “However, there is a need for more compelling creative advertisements that can motivate consumers to take the initiative to learn more about the advertised brand from their doctors.”

A survey conducted during February 2003 of more than 25,000 U.S. adults by Ipsos PharmTrends revealed that 20 percent said that DTC advertising prompted them to call or visit their doctor to discuss the prescription drug they saw advertised, and 60 percent said they had seen advertising for prescription drugs in the 12 months before February 2003 – up significantly from 47 percent during the same period last year. The rising consumer recall figure is consistent with increasing ad expenditures by drug manufacturers, the study noted.

Top Categories For Prescription Brand Drug Recall
(Based on % of category buyers that recalled an
ad for the prescription brand within that category)
Category % of Prescription
Brand Buyers with Ad Recall
% Change in #
of Ad Aware
Allergy 71% +3%
Behavioral Disorders 46% +13%
Cardiovascular 43% +14%
Gastrointestinal 40% +12%
Female Health 34% -10%
Source: Ipsos PharmTrends

The DTC ads served as reminders to refill prescriptions among 15 percent of the respondents, representing a 3 percent increase from the year prior.

“The most recent survey confirms that consumers are more likely to recall an advertisement seen for a prescription drug. Additionally, for those already using the advertised prescription brand, the ads are serving as a reminder for patients to comply with their doctor’s instructions, and ultimately encouraging them to continue with their prescribed treatment,” stated Zamaniyan.

Top Ten Prescription Brand Drugs By Ad Recall Levels
(Based on % of buyers that recalled seeing an ad
for the prescription brand that they purchased)
Year Ago
#1 #1 Viagra
#8 #2 Nexium
#3 #3 Imitrex
#2 #4 Lipitor
#6 #5 Ortho Tri-cyclen
#11 #6 Allegra/D Total
#9 #7 Celebrex
#23 #8 Zoloft
#7 #9 Prilosec
#16 #10 Paxil/CR
Source: Ipsos PharmTrends

Americans that click onto foreign online pharmacies to purchase any of these popular medications may be surprised to find that only half are licensed to dispense drugs. Evaluations conducted by PharmacyChecker.com revealed that 50 percent of the sites they reviewed did not have a verified pharmacy license and 33 percent didn’t require an original prescription.

“Americans are flocking to foreign online pharmacies to save money but often without knowledge of who these companies are, how they operate, and whether they offer the best prices,” said Tod Cooperman, M.D., president of PharmacyChecker.com.

The firm also found that one-third of the online pharmacies it researched did not have an appropriate privacy policy; 42 percent didn’t provide a verified physical address and phone number; and 17 percent lacked the security for an online financial transaction.

Further analysis revealed that, on average, Canadian online pharmacies charge 49 percent less than their American counterparts, while unlicensed U.S. sites charge an average of 54 percent more than legit U.S. sites.

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