Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising:
Understanding Its Consequences


Jisu Huh and Lee B. Becker


Since 1985, when the FDA lifted the ban on Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertising, advertising spending by the pharmaceutical industry has increased tremendously. Especially after the FDA’s revision of regulations in 1997, which opened the gate for pharmaceutical marketers to do DTC prescription drug advertising on television, DTC drug advertising expenditures have skyrocketed (Davis, 2000).

The dramatic increase in DTC advertising has generated a great deal of debate about its potential benefits and risks to the public and the healthcare system. The issues surrounding DTC prescription drug advertising involve questions of public health, corporate responsibility, advertising ethics, the consumers’ ability to understand complicated medical information, and the nature of consumer responses to those advertisements.

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