Prevention uncovers clued-up patients

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Consumers are getting savvier about the risks and benefits of the medicines they're taking, according to Prevention's 10th Annual National Survey on Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medications.

Moreover, those doing the most information-seeking are also often those most likely to ask their doctor about an advertised medicine. Overall, 27% of respondents saw a DTC ad and talked to their doctor about it, but 42% of those who said they know a lot about their illness reported doing so. 

The survey found that more consumers—61%, versus 46% in 2005—want to know how the effectiveness of the drugs they take compares to others in their class.

“What we're seeing is the evolution of consumers towards having questions beyond risk and benefits,” said Cary Silvers, director of consumer and advertising trends for Rodale. “Beyond that, people want to know how one medication compares to another, and that's being driven by the power of online search and the ability to comparison-shop for different products.”

They're also more curious about how the medicine treats their condition (76%, versus 70% in 2006) and how it interacts with other medicines (66%, versus 57% in 2006).

The survey also found that even after a prescription is filled, three-quarters of consumers are still looking for information about their medications, with 29% reporting that they stopped to watch or read an ad.

A vast majority of survey respondents—73%—said DTC ads allow them to be more involved with their healthcare, though only 8% reported asking their doctor for a specific medication after seeing an ad.

Disease awareness ads, however, seem to be having the desired effect. Among the 36% of consumers who remembered seeing any disease awareness ad, half said they had either talked with their doctor, a friend or family member or searched for additional information online.

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