How Are Direct-to-Consumer-Advertisements Changing Psychiatric Drug Use? (The Dana Foundation):
“Flip on your television to a commercial station and you are likely to see ads for cars, snacks, and home appliances—and prescription medications. Some ads specifically target psychiatric illnesses: Only this week, I saw commercials for Latuda®(lurasidone HCI), a drug used to treat bipolar depression, and Abilify® (aripiprazole), an anti-depressant. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxed regulations surrounding direct-to-consumer-advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs, opening the door for broadcast commercials on radio and television…Psychiatric medications are among the most heavily advertised medications, says Sara Becker, a researcher at Brown University’s School of Public Health. People with psychiatric conditions may be more susceptible to the effects of advertising, she says, so it’s important that we better understand how DTCA may affect prescriptions and usage in managing mental health.
Becker says that across those four studies, some of the findings were consistent. “There is evidence that people actively requesting a medication they saw on TV or heard on the radio did seem to increase prescribing. That is, the sheer act of asking for medications resulted in more prescribing,” she says. “And that could be a good or a bad thing. If a person is seriously depressed and needs help, they were more likely to get the medication they needed. But if a patient asked for a medication who maybe didn’t meet the full criteria for depression and shouldn’t have gotten a medication, they were likely to get it as well.”
Study: Effects of Direct-To-Consumer Advertising on Patient Prescription Requests and Physician Prescribing: A Systematic Review of Psychiatry-Relevant Studies (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry)
- Objective: To systematically analyze the effects of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) on patient requests for medication and physician prescribing across psychiatry-relevant studies.
- Findings: Due to lack of replication across strong randomized controlled trials (RCTs), no conclusions merited high confidence. With moderate confidence, we concluded that DTCA requests (1) are granted most of the time (1 RCT, 3 observational), (2) prompt higher prescribing volume (1 RCT, 1 observational), (3) promote greater adherence to minimally acceptable treatment guidelines for patients with depression (1 RCT), and (4) stimulate overprescribing among patients with an adjustment disorder (1 RCT).
- Conclusions: Findings suggest that DTCA requests are typically accommodated, promote higher prescribing volume, and have competing effects on treatment quality. More methodologically strong studies are needed to increase confidence in conclusions.