Not only are pharmaceuticals being improperly advertised for off-label uses, but advertising for drugs’ proper use doesn’t even work.
Thus beyond any discussion of the wrongs done by drug-makers, it turns out the current system doesn’t benefit them either.
Despite millions spent on advertising, patients can’t remember what drug does what.
BNET Pharma: BusinessWeek reports that a survey by research company Verilogue of 12,500 recorded conversations between doctors and patients in 2008 found only 23 requests for specific drugs. Worse, the survey also found stuff like this:
“I think it’s, uh, Ambien that says you might go out to eat and not remember,” said one patient in the study. “I thought, ‘great, all I need.’ ” The campaign cost Sanofi (SNY) $151 million last year, and Ambien sales actually fell by 37%, to $806 million.
There has been a quiet drumbeat of recent reports suggesting the link between advertising and drug sales is weak at best. In the last couple of years, adspend on antidepressants and sleeping pills was drastically reduced, but due to stress caused by the recession prescriptions of both types of drugs went up.
The twist to all this of course is that if drug sales are completely ineffective when targeting their on-label use, then they can’t be all that effective when targeting off-label uses either. Thus maybe they’re not necessarily causing additional harm to consumers when promoted off-label.