The advertising of pharmaceuticals direct to consumers: a critical review of the literature and debate

Frank Auton
University of Westminster and Autonomy Consulting Ltd


The purpose of this review is to examine the arguments presented for and against the use of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of pharmaceuticals. This review was prepared following a detailed study of the experience of the two Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) markets which permit DTCA, namely the USA and New Zealand , and a review of the positions put forward by the many interested stakeholders for and against DTCA. These positions were developed during the current debate within both DTCA-permitted markets and those considering DTCA, primarily Europe and Canada . The opinions presented are highly polarised and despite numerous studies and research there is as yet an absence of conclusive evidence about the real impact of DTCA.