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We Report... You Deride

 
Wednesday, April 21, 2004  
Spam the Consumers-- Full Speed Ahead

At last-- an hour in an unobserved office... Some time ago, I did a long post about the evils of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising for pharmaceutical drugs. In it, I quoted a study about the impact: People were more likely to ask for drugs that they really didn't need, and doctors would prescribe them because they were too wimpy to argue.

Here's a story about another study on the subject. The authors reviewed the 2001 records of the state of Philadelphia's prescription drug assistance program for the elderly in the year 2001. The study, which looked only at high blood pressure treatment, found:

* 133,624 patients filed 2.05 million prescriptions for hypertension, costing the state about $48.5 million in 2001
* About 40% of the time, the doctors prescribed drugs that didn't follow standard clinical guidelines
* If the guidelines had always been followed, the state would have saved about $11.6 million

Obviously there are cases where the standard treatment isn't working, and you wouldn't want to pass laws mandating treatment. But there's no way that 40% of the cases in a state are atypical. The doctor who commented on the findings in the story noted that patients often believe the best care is the costliest and push for more expensive treatments and that is an issue too.

But all that noted, drug companies wouldn't spend fortunes on ads if they didn't work. According to this white paper (Warning: it's an 11-page PDF), research shows that "direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is not only effective in generating
initial sales of advertised prescription (Rx) medicine brands, but also in boosting patient compliance"
and and a study of the industry found that:

* 88% expect their 2004 DTC spending to increase or stay the same-- 33% expect spending to rise by more than 5%
* Over 30% expect to spend more for non-specific DTC marketing (that is, not related to a specific product)-- specifically for e-mail, direct mail and branded web sites.
* 33% want to spend less on broadcast/mass media advertising-- 98 % want to commit more for direct communications (e-mail and mailings).
* The two biggest complaints from DTC marketers are government regulations and the lack of measurement tools to measure their success.

Translation: The drug companies want to get your confidential information and then spam you to death. And they're going to put intense pressure on the wingnut congress to roll back privacy laws and block anti-spam efforts. Another reason we need to win back Congress.

Oh, if you want more details about the study, here's the abstract (sorry, but you have to be a subscriber to get the full text).

11:30 AM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004  
While I'm Away...

Major laptop troubles-- and it's damned difficult to blog about topics that your employer prohibits you from discussing if you don't have your own computer.

Should be back in a day or two more. They haven't gotten rid of me just yet.

11:22 PM

 
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