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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 1161

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: Journal Article

Toop L, Richards D.
Physicians' negative views of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA): the international evidence grows.
N Z Med J 2004 Jun 4; 117:(1195):U905


Abstract:

Further evidence of prescribers’ negative perceptions about DTCA is provided by the survey of all 16,000 Finnish physicians about their attitudes to the possible introduction of DTCA to Europe. 80% of the 14,000 respondents were against it; only 4% were in favour. In the recent survey of Colorado physicians, only 1 in 10 respondents considered DTCA positive, and less than 30% of the public. Similarly 80% of 1600 New Zealand GPs who answered a request for support for a ban on DTCA felt it was (on balance) negative. Overwhelming support from professional organisations and consumer groups in NZ has encouraged the Government to signal its intention to ban it soon, through harmonisation with Australia. Of concern is the intention to continue to allow ‘disease-awareness’ advertising. A strong message to the Government is required that even this form of advertising will bring more problems than it will solve. At present, the Ministry of Health has no remit to monitor DTCA, and the self-regulatory system run by the Advertising Standards Authority is inadequate and inappropriate. Commercial imperatives facing the pharmaceutical industry, together with its effectiveness at influencing prescribing, make DTCA irresistible as a marketing tool. Until the industry is more responsible, advocacy by the medical profession in protecting the public health will remain of utmost importance. Around the world, pharmaceutical companies are trying to sponsor, influence, and (at times) covertly set up patient advocacy groups. This will eventually backfire as awareness by consumer advocates grows. We need better and more accessible independent consumer health information. Momentum is building for a stronger national consumer voice to advocate for more balanced and honest information. Let’s hope New Zealand can soon put another ‘unfortunate experiment’ behind it, and again lead the world in encouraging informed consumers.

Keywords:
*editorial Finland New Zealand Colorado DTCA direct-to-consumer advertising physicians disease awareness campaigns patient advocacy groups ATTITUDES REGARDING PROMOTION: HEALTH PROFESSIONALS INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: CONSUMERS AND PATIENTS INFORMATION FROM INDUSTRY: PATIENTS AND CONSUMERS PROMOTION AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION: CONSUMERS AND PATIENTS PROMOTION BY THIRD PARTIES: PATIENT ORGANIZATIONS PROMOTIONAL TECHNIQUES: DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER ADVERTISING

 

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You are going to have many difficulties. The smokers will not like your message. The tobacco interests will be vigorously opposed. The media and the government will be loath to support these findings. But you have one factor in your favour. What you have going for you is that you are right.
- Evarts Graham
See:
When truth is unwelcome: the first reports on smoking and lung cancer.