Have You Been Injured? We're Ready to Fight for You.

New Study Looks at Impact of Direct to Consumer Drug Marketing

Published on May 12, 2014 at 8:52 am in Dangerous Drugs.

Early lawsuits against the makers of testosterone therapy drugs are claiming that the pharmaceutical makers of those drugs engaged in marketing pressure with potential to compromise patient’s safety.

One lawsuit claimed that, “Defendants coordinated a massive advertising campaign designed to convince men that they suffered from low testosterone.”

A new study sought to examine the impact of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. The alarming findings of the study were that when patients made specific request for a certain medicine, it substantially affected the doctor’s prescribing-decisions, “despite the drawbacks of the requested medications.” The upshot from those millions of advertising dollars is they are not only swaying consumers, but they are swaying doctors as well.

The study, titled, “Effects of Patient Medication Requests on Physician Prescribing Behavior: Results of a Factorial Experiment,” was published in the April 2014 edition of the journal Medical Care. In an editorial in the same issue, the journal explained the background. They wrote that in 1997, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxed the enforcement of its advertising regulations. Direct-to-consumer broadcast ads surged sharply soon after. Pharmaceutical ad buys for TV shot up to $3.3 billion by 2006. Due to the recession, it dropped to $2.4 billion in 2010.

The Study

The researchers said they launched their study on the effects of these ads on medical treatment:

“Because of internet searches, advice from friends, and pharmaceutical advertising, especially direct-to-consumer advertising, patients are increasingly activated to request medications during a physician encounter.”

They recruited 192 primary care physicians across six states and video-taped the exams. Two patient scenarios were presented: (1) an undiagnosed “patient” with symptoms strongly suggesting sciatica, and (2) a “patient” with already diagnosed chronic knee osteoarthritis. Half of the patients in each category requested a specific drug (oxycodone for sciatica and celebrex for arthritis), while the other half of each patient group simply requested something to help with pain.

The end result was that doctors were more likely to prescribe a brand name prescription medication when a patient requested the drug by name, even if the requested medication offered no benefits over less expensive alternatives.

  • 20% of sciatica patients requesting oxycodone received it, compared with 1% of those who made no specific request;
  • 53% of knee arthritis patients requesting celebrex received it, compared to 24% of patients who made no specific request.

The study found that, “No patient attributes, physician, or organizational factors influenced a physician’s willingness to accede to a patient’s medication request.”

In the case of testosterone therapies like Androgel and Testim, it can be argued that the drug companies spent millions of dollars on TV marketing to create a demand for those drugs, even among men who had no medical need for them.

Meet Your Team

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Legal & Firm News

Multi-Vehicle Accidents: Who Pays for Chain Reaction Crashes?

You’re driving down the road on your way to work in heavy traffic. Everything seems standard for your morning commute until you’re sideswiped by a passing vehicle and subsequently rear-ended by the car behind you when you brake. Emergency responders arrive at the scene, and you’re treated for your injuries and told to follow up […]

Read More

5 Questions to Ask During a Free Case Consultation

If you’ve been injured in an accident and are looking to pursue compensation from the at-fault party, you may not know where to turn. Fortunately, personal injury lawyers can help accident victims file a strong claim that proves a monetary award is owed.

Read More

How to Stay Safe Around Pools This Summer

As we’re now just past the Fourth of July holiday weekend, summer is in full swing. With the 2021 heatwave affecting most of the continental U.S., pool owners all around the country are taking full advantage of their backyard oases to beat the heat. Those without pools looking to take a dip in the water […]

Read More