Direct-to-consumer advertising: Good or bad?

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is directed towards patients for pharmaceutical products. There are many controversies relating to DTC advertising. I have thought about this for a while now. I even debated about this in college. I was in a group where we opposed it. However, as weird as it sounds, I am just about in between. As a normal viewer, I do seem to find it annoying, however as a person who actually studies advertising, I can find a beneficial side to it. You have no idea how many times a day I hear colleagues, friends, and family complain about how these types of commercials even exist. They would say that the announcers give too many false information regarding the side effects of each product and exaggerate highly of it. Therefore, they dislike hearing it. I completely understand their thought process. However, I do have some good things to say about it, even though it’s by far viewers’ least favorite kinds of commercials to watch and hear. First, I do want to focus on the negative and what created viewers to believe so.

Cons:

  1. It may seem as if DTC advertising focuses on promoting the products more, as opposed to informing the audience.
  2. It creates hypochondria.
    • Hypochondria – the state of being anxious about one’s health with fear of having a serious disease.
    • commercial narrators on all pharmaceutical products over-exaggerate on the many side effects the certain product has, ending with “leading to death” in almost every sentences, which obviously terrifies viewers.
  3. Drug companies seem to only want to sell us their products, no matter if we need it or not.
    • this is what most individuals think, but I oppose. Let’s see why!
  4. Destroys doctor-patient relationships
    • we may not believe our physicians anymore after seeing the ad.
    • who should we believe now?

Like many things in life, there are always good things coming out of certain things. For example, even if viewers despise DTC advertising, do they ever focus on how and why these commercials function this way? Have they ever studied or researched the fundamental aspect of DTC advertising? Not really…so let’s discuss that!

Pros:

  1. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates this form of advertising that are only available in the United States and New Zealand.
  2. They are not making things up. They are looking out for your health!
    • They may seem like they give too much information, but they are stating facts that COULD happen to you if you take this certain drug/medication.
    • Aside of terrible side effects they state in each ads, they also focus on the many benefits the certain product has.
    • If they do not inform as much as they can, they would appear useless and uninformative.
  3. As for the hypochondriacs, talk and listen to your doctor instead. Don’t waste time listening to an ad where they scare you to death (not much of a “pro” but more of an attempted life lesson).
    • View the ad as a form of art and a little “friendly” warning. It is always important to listen to your doctor, as they understand your condition more than anybody else.
    • Narrators most often state “Talk to your doctor” in every commercials.
  4. Like any types of advertisements, DTC advertising improves the economy!
    • think about it, without profits and sales revenue generated from the ads itself, how would drug companies develop life-saving medications that can improve the lives of billions of people?

Let’s be open minded, shall we? I hope by reading this, viewers who oppose to DTC advertising can finally understand the concept behind each messages and just focus on the benefits of the products. However, it is always crucial to talk to your doctors regarding your condition and ask if it is right for you!

Disclaimer: All facts provided come from my knowledge in DTC advertising when I studied advertising in college

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