Direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies—frequently criticized for directing funds away from research and development and for increasing drug prices—plays an important role in healthcare communication, according to a review of recent surveys conducted by Schering Laboratories. The company says DTC advertising educates patients and foster stronger doctor-patient dialogue.

According to a survey by Prevention magazine, for example, DTC advertising has motivated approximately 54 million consumers to talk with their doctors about their health and potential medical conditions since The Food and Drug Administration issued a new guidance regarding prescription drug advertising in 1997.

Meanwhile, an FDA-sponsored survey found almost half of the adults surveyed said DTC ads helped them make better decisions about their own health and more than six out of ten surveyed said ads for prescription drugs help them have better discussions with their doctors about their health.
“In this information era, DTC advertising is a crucial part of the health care communication equation,” said Richard Zahn, president of Schering Laboratories. “DTC advertising can improve health outcomes by encouraging people to consult their doctors, thereby often averting later complications.”