One healthcare coalition has put drug ads in the spotlight of its latest research, but not the DTC ads produced by pharma marketers. The Partnership to Protect Patient Health has examined how attorney drug ads are affecting medication usage.
Specifically, the study examined the dark, ominous ads that claim a drug has caused serious side effects or death and ask viewers to call a lawyer if they have taken the drug. Sometimes they pose as public service announcements to fool patients into calling.
In a survey of 800 patients with chronic or mental health conditions, 24% said they’ve stopped taking medication after seeing ads like these, raising the possibility that a quarter of patients whose condition depends on the drug may put themselves at risk. More than a third (34%) of patients reported feeling less favorable about their medication, and half said the ads have no impact.
Some patients raised concerns about the ads to their doctors. According to the survey, 37% of doctors said patients have frequently mentioned seeing attorney advertising about their medication or condition. That percentage has climbed for different specialties: 51% of cardiologists and 45% of endocrinologists say their patients mention such ads frequently.
The main concerns doctors cited about these ads is that they are misleading, add to a patient’s stress, and use selective information.
More than half of doctors (58%) also reported that patients have stopped taking their medication without consulting them after seeing an ad.
The spots also have some effect on prescribing. About a quarter of doctors (22%) said they changed their prescribing recommendations for at least one medication due to attorney drug ads.
Because of the effect on medication adherence, more than 60% of doctors believe this type of advertising should have rules, while 29% said they should probably have rules. Of patients, only 43% said attorney ads definitely need to have rules, and another 34% said they should probably have rules.