What doctors have to say about those DTC ads

It’s well documented that the American Medical Association isn’t a huge fan of direct-to-consumer advertising for pharmaceuticals and devices. Individual doctors, however, have been far less vocal about their feelings toward DTC. Do they believe that the ads help educate patients? Do they derive any benefits themselves, in terms of awareness or anything else, from the ads?

Read the 2017 DTC Report: Patients are taking on DTC ads. How will drugmakers respond?

We had SERMO, a social network for physicians, ask them. In response to the question, “Do you believe DTC drug advertisements primarily (1) are helpful to doctor–patient communications and educate patients or (2) make doctor–patient communications more difficult and do not provide valuable educational content to patients,” 79% (1,343 doctors) said the former and 21% (353 doctors) said the latter. We’ve synthesized their comments below, preceded by the physician’s area of specialty.

Hematology: “[Patients] are being normed to a standard of truth and transparency that used to be associated only with used cars and new toys. The physician no longer starts with a clean slate.

The physician now starts with the burden of de-educating the patient from irresponsible and fantastic expectations.”

Plastic and reconstructive surgery: “These commercials are directed to prospective patients, yet the rapid medical warnings and fine print are filled with medical terminology that no non-physician could possibly comprehend.”

Otolaryngology: “If there is no medical contraindication, and if the class of medication is appropriate, I always prescribe the competitor’s drug, on principle.”

Psychiatry: “When I explain that two antidepressants have about the same chance of working, but the TV brand is $400 and the generic or older brand is $10, then most patients want the generic. TV sells. But patients…

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