Direct to Consumer Advertising Confronts Managed Care
DTC advertising of prescription drugs is becoming more accepted by physicians, patients, and manufacturers but still represents only a small proportion of the money pharmaceutical companies spend on promotion. Some argue that DTC could be a natural fit with disease management programs but neither advertisers nor managed care have figured out a way to make it work for both because of naturally conflicting goals.
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DTC advertising for prescription drugs is alive and well. Companies spent $2.16 billion through the end of October 2002--$216 million per month--a 4.4% increase over the monthly industry spend rate from 2001. In a year characterized by belt-tightening decisions, this step-up in spending reflects just how crucial it is for pharmaceuticals to steer consumers towards high-margin drugs.
While pharmaceutical companies have begun to explore the blow-out potential of a direct to consumer appeal in quality of life issues, medical device firms have sat on the sidelines. They've targeted seriously ill patients on the outer fringes of conditions like obesity and erectile dysfunction, but as of yet, haven't really gone after the huge central market.
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