Communicating effectively with doctors and consumers
Advertising for pharmaceuticals is complex,
and intimately tied into domestic regulations in individual countries, which
vary quite widely in their detail, even within the supposedly harmonised markets
of the EU.
The primary distinction
affecting the market is between prescription-only products and those sold over
the counter (OTC) to the public. OTC medicines can be advertised, but are
subject to tighter regulation than most product categories. Prescription-only
products can be advertised direct to consumers (DTC) only in the
However, first in the
US, before the DTC regulations were loosened by the FDA in the mid-1990s, and
more recently in some other countries, pharma companies have been able to run
so-called disease awareness campaigns (DACs), which have included non-branded
ads for their products (25, 28).