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Study links improved consumer welfare to increased prescription drug advertising efforts
Date:11/26/2012

Athens, Ga. More people are better off thanks to the impact of an influx of direct-to-consumer advertising spending than they would be without those marketing efforts, according to a study recently published by Jayani Jayawardhana, an assistant professor in the University of Georgia College of Public Health.

The multi-year study focused on advertising efforts surrounding cholesterol-reducing prescription medications. Jayawardhana found increased levels of consumer welfare due to direct-to-consumer advertising than when compared to situations without this type of marketing. Her research, which was published in the International Journal of Industrial Organization, concludes that such efforts also spurred under-diagnosed patients to seek medical treatment.

Federal deregulation of prescription drug marketing in 1997 lowered cost barriers and enabled manufacturers to advertise prescription drugs without including a detailed summary of the product. Since the relaxation of those rules, advertising spending from pharmaceutical companies has increased by more than 200 percent.

Jayawardhana, a health economist in the college's department of health policy and management, said her study was the first to provide an analysis of consumer welfare that demonstrated a connection to the increased marketing expenditures. It also adds further support to existing academic research suggesting that direct-to-consumer advertising efforts lead to a more informed and more inquisitive consumer, which could lead to better health outcomes.

"Let's say you see a commercial for Lipitor, and you suspect that you have high cholesterol, so you come and ask for that drug from the physician," Jayawardhana said. "For whatever reason, the doctor may assume that isn't the best drug for you, and you get prescribed Zocor instead. The point isn't that you didn't get the drug you saw on the commercial but rather that you came to the doctor and got treatment
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Contact: Jayani Jayawardhana
jayaward@uga.edu
706-369-5963
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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