Sick of seeing pharmaceutical advertisements on TV? You’re not alone

May 22, 2023

We all know you can’t watch TV without seeing at least one ad for a prescription drug. Now, some people want to see the ads removed from the air entirely in what’s called the “drop the ads” movement.

According to a survey by STAT, people hate these ads for various reasons: their frequency, repetition, description of side effects and seeing ads related to diseases associated with sex at times children might hear them.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that in 2020, more money was spent on drug ads with lower added benefits, suggesting that these direct-to-consumer ads promote the use of expensive drugs with little or no benefits.

However, an editorial by Professor Amanda Starc of Northwestern University highlighted the positive aspects of direct to consumer (DTC) advertising. She argues it increases patient awareness, promotes discussions between patients and physicians, expands prescription options and improves medication adherence.

So what about research and development? Some think the $7 billion spent on ads would be better invested in research. Still, the biopharmaceutical industry reinvests 25% of its revenues into R&D. So, if the ads lead to an increase in sales, they also lead to an increase in spending on R&D.

What do you think? Should Pharma “drop the ads,” or do you think they are helpful? Share your views and experiences with Voices for Affordable Health.