Television commercials for prescription drugs, TV drug ads are heavily loaded on the emotional side but offer scant information on the disease itself and do little to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
The study’s lead author, Dominick Frosch, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, published this study in the January-February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine – “Creating Demand for Prescription Drugs: A Content Analysis of Television Direct-to-Consumer Advertising”.
Average American television viewers see as many as 16 hours of prescription drug advertisements per year. Arguments in favor of advertising prescription drugs on television state that they help educate people about health conditions and available treatments. This study analyzes the messages in television prescription drug ads to understand how they influence consumers and whether they meet their educational potential.
Television prescription drugs ads usually try to persuade viewers using reasons other than medical costs and benefits. Ads provide some factual claims and rational arguments, but they don?t usually describe the causes or risk factors for a condition, or whether the condition is common. Almost all ads use emotional appeals and show characters who have lost control over their social, emotional, or physical lives without the medication. Ads portray prescription drugs as medical breakthroughs and minimize the value of healthy lifestyle changes.
Outcome of this study –
– Despite claims that ads serve an educational purpose, they provide limited information about the causes of a disease or who may be at risk.
– Because prescription drug ads are unclear about who might need or benefit from the products, they imply that people may be at risk for a wide range of health conditions that can be treated by prescription drugs.
– The ads have limited educational value and may oversell the benefits of drugs in ways that may conflict with promoting health.