Trends in Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Contraceptives
CitationWu, Min. 2016. Trends in Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Contraceptives. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Medical School.
AbstractObjective: Despite much speculation about the role of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) in increasing demand for prescription contraceptives in the United States, there is little published research on this topic. We sought to quantify the prevalence and magnitude of DTCA for prescription contraceptives over the last decade.
Methods: Using cross-sectional data from January 2005 through December 2014, we performed descriptive analyses on trends in DTCA expenditure for prescription contraceptives. We quantified the amount of DTCA by contraceptive method category and individual brand.
Results: During the study period, pharmaceutical companies spent a total of $1.57 billion in the United States on DTCA of prescription contraceptives. Annual expenditure for contraceptive DTCA reached a peak of $260 million in 2008, with a progressive decline to a nadir of $69 million by 2013. Of the contraceptive methods, oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) have been the most heavily promoted, with Yaz – the most advertised brand – accounting for $347 million of DTCA expenditure. However, DTCA spending on OCPs peaked in 2007 and was overtaken in 2012 by the DTCA of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), the method now receiving the largest amount of DTCA promotion.
Conclusions: Direct-to-consumer advertising is a major form of promotion for prescription contraceptives. Recent trends in DTCA expenditure indicate a shift from promotion of the OCPs to the LARCs. Direct-to-consumer advertising’s effect on provider and patient utilization of various contraceptive methods has yet to be determined.
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