Direct-to-Consumer Advertising and Its Effect on Prescription Requests

Angela Hausman
Xavier University


INTRODUCTION

Certainly, the role of advertising in positioning a product to ultimately result in product purchase (or purchase intentions) is well established using the attitude-toward-the-advertisement model (Aad) (cf. Mitchell and Olson, 1981). Contextual differences associated with advertising prescription drugs make them sufficiently different from other types of consumer products commonly studied to suggest an investigation of the utility of the Aad model is warranted. These contextual differences include intermediation by physicians and insurance carriers, the reported reluctance to request prescription drugs (Peyrot, Alperstein, Van Doren, and Poli, 1998; Wilkes, Bell, and Kravitz, 2000), controversies regarding the ethicalness of advertising prescription drugs, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations controlling content and involving prior review of advertising, risk, and lack of consumer expertise with medical issues. Given the large expenditures on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising-over $3 billion in 2003, which has increased by double digits every year since the FDA loosened its regulations on DTC advertising in 1997-achieving increased clarity is critical for evaluating the utility of such expenditures and increasing positive results from them (DeLorme, Huh, and Reid, 2006; IMS Health, 2004).