For the first time since the Food and Drug Administration lessened restrictions on direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertisements in 1996, there is a significant slowing in direct-to-consumer advertising expenditures.
From 1996 to 2000, direct-to-consumer advertising spending grew more than three-fold from $791 million to $2.5 billion. In 2001, spending increased a very modest 6.3%. Why the slowdown?
Although the economic downturn no doubt plays a role, the virtually nonstop criticism of DTC pharmaceutical ads certainly hasn’t helped. Critics of DTC advertisements are particularly bothered by executions that lack sensitivity to the seriousness of pharmaceutical products — executions that treat products as just one more consumer item to be sold, like candy or breath mints.
Amidst justified uproar against tasteless or irresponsible direct-to-consumer drug ads, it is important to remember that responsible DTC ads…
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Susan Hempstead is a principal in charge of client services at Stratagem Healthcare Communications, a medical advertising agency located in San Francisco.