87% of physicians report patient confusion with direct-to-consumer pharma ads: 9 key notes

Practice Management

The Untied States has an estimated $5.4 billion direct-to-consumer ad spend. An InCrowd microsurvey questioned how physicians view DTC ads in pharmaceuticals.

The survey, conducted over several months beginning in June 2016, included 319 physicians across several specialties.


Here are nine key notes:


1. Physicians believe DTC pharmaceutical ads create more inquisitive patients.


2. Still, physicians are somewhat alarmed about how these ads are affecting patient understanding.


3. Questioned physicians said they received three times the number of patient questions stemming from DTC ads than they received five years ago.


4. These questions, however, often reveal patients' confusion surrounding the ads' content.


5. Eighty-seven percent of physicians noticed their patients struggling somewhat to understand or interpret DTC ad information.


6. Forty-three percent of physicians reported some of their patients could understand or interpret the ads, and 41 percent noted that few patients could understand the ads.


7. Of physician respondents, 13 percent reported most of their patients could understand the ads.


8. Regarding confusion, 49 percent of physicians said patients are often confused about their condition, treatment and positional risks. However, 16 percent of physicians said the ads boosted patients understanding of condition, treatment and risks.


9. Of respondents, 35 percent supported banning the DTC ads, with 65 percent encouraging improvements to the content and messaging, such as:


• Educate patients more: 31 percent
• Simplify the message: 17 percent
• Include more explanation of side effects: 7 percent
• Include cost information: 3 percent


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