11th Annual Survey on Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Drugs Reveals:

Doctor Endorsement Has Little Effect on Consumer Perception of Drug

Consumers Increasingly Embrace Internet: Many Search Online for Prescription Info (53%), Visit Pharm Co. Web Site (50%)

Majority View DTC Ads (Magazine & TV) Useful

NEW YORK--()--Doctors endorsement of drugs in pharmaceutical ads has little impact on consumer perception of those drugs, according to the 11th annual national survey Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medicines. Seventy-five percent of consumers say a doctors appearance in an ad does not make an advertised medicine seem more effective, and 72% say it doesnt make it seem safer. The survey results were released today at a presentation to more than 200 pharmaceutical executives and industry leaders at the W Hotel in New York City.

Conducted by Prevention, Mens Health and Womens Health magazines, with technical assistance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communication (FDA-DDMAC), this survey is one of the primary consumer studies informing the FDAs stance on DTC issues.

Mirroring overall trends in information seeking, the study found a significant increase in consumers using the web for medical queries:

  • More than half (53%) of all consumers go online to look for prescription drug information, vs. 41% in 2007, and 10% have clicked on a DTC banner ad, compared to 5% in 2006.
  • Many have visited the Web site of a pharmaceutical company (50%) or advertised brand of medicine (40%).

Consumers are firmly rooted in the era of online health management as more and more patients embrace tools and trackers such as Google, Yahoo and Revolution Health, said Cary Silvers, Director of Consumer Insights at Rodale, who spearheaded this years survey. Along with the doctor and pharmacist, the online component has become the third leg of the stool as consumers learn about drugs. The more consumers know, the more likely they are to take action.

The need for treatment trumps everything, including any industry skepticism. DTC advertising is solution-based and if you have a condition, the information you receive from DTC ads will strongly resonate, said Bob Ziltz, VP/Publisher of Prevention. Consumers are hungrier than ever for information, with all indicators trending higher in this years study.

Todays event has become an annual forum on DTC advertising, illustrating the need for and interest in an understanding of the complex DTC market. Other speakers were James H. Davidson, a principal at Washington, DC, law firm Polsinelli, Shalton, Flanigan, Suelthaus, PC, on The Word from Washington, and Ed Keller, CEO, Keller Fay Group, on Unleashing the Power of Word of Mouth: Opportunities for DTC Marketers.

Other key findings from the 11th annual survey on Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medicine:

  • Doctors offices are valuable distributors of health information: 63% of consumers notice informational materials (posters, brochures, videos) featured there.
  • The majority of consumers say that magazine DTC ads are somewhat/very useful in conveying a drugs benefits (75%) and risks (76%). Consumers feel similarly about TV DTC ads in conveying a drugs benefits (69%) and risks (78%). Fifty-six percent say that ads are done responsibly.
  • 58% of consumers are currently taking a prescription drug, compared to 47% ten years ago. Of those taking prescription medicines, 55% saw an advertisement for the medicine they were taking.
  • Over a 5-year average, among every one who saw a DTC ad, 73% of the consumers talked to their doctor about a medicine while 25% asked the doctor to prescribe it. Of those who just talked about the drug, 25% received the prescription for the advertised medicine. Of those who specifically asked, 77% received the prescription.
  • More than half of consumers (56%) say they do not follow news stories about pharmaceutical companies. In the same vein, negative attitudes towards pharmaceutical companies make no difference in consumer actions towards DTC ads. Whether they are favorable or not, the same amount of consumers talked with a doctor about a specific medicine they saw advertised.


Prepared by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, March 2008

Telephone interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,503 adults living in the continental United States from March 3 -20, 2008. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±3percent.

About Rodale Inc. (www.rodale.com)

Rodale Inc. is the authoritative source for trusted content in health, fitness and wellness worldwide, reaching more than 70 million people globally. The company publishes some of the best-known health and wellness lifestyle magazines, including Men's Health (http://www.menshealth.com), Prevention (http://www.prevention.com), Women's Health (http://www.womenshealthmag.com), Runner's World, Best Life, Bicycling, Mountain Bike, Running Times and Organic Gardening, and is also the largest independent book publisher in America with a collection of international titles, including The South Beach Diet and The Abs Diet franchises, and Al Gores New York Times bestseller An Inconvenient Truth. Rodale's broad range of media platforms includes magazines, books, videos and extensive Web sites. The company is also a leader in direct-response marketing and has more than 26 million active customers in its database.


Rodale Inc.
Karen Mazzotta, 212-808-1660


Rodale Inc.
Karen Mazzotta, 212-808-1660