Most Patients Who Request Brand Name Rx Drugs Get Them, FDA Survey Finds
Patients who ask their physicians for a specific brand-name drug usually get a prescription for that medication, according to a new FDA survey that "underscore[s] the powerful role consumer advertising plays in how America's physicians are treating illnesses," the Wall Street Journal reports. According to preliminary findings in the telephone survey of 943 adults who had visited a doctor in the previous three months, nearly 25% of respondents asked their doctor for a specific brand of drug, and 69% of those patients ultimately received a prescription for that drug. Forty-one percent of patients who asked their doctors about any drug were given medication by their doctor. "Asking about a brand seems to be getting you the drug," Kathryn Aikin, a social science analyst at the FDA's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications, said. Since the use of direct-to-consumer advertising grew after the FDA eased restrictions in 1997, the drug industry has said that such marketing encourages patients to ask doctors about conditions and treatments of which patients might otherwise have been unaware. But critics say that the ads lead patients to request unnecessary treatments and have helped to drive up prescription drug costs. The survey also shows that more people are aware of drug ads now than they were a few years ago. In the last FDA survey on the topic, conducted in 1999, 72% of patients said they recalled seeing or hearing a drug ad in the prior three months; in the new survey, which is expected to be released later this month, that percentage rose to 81% (O'Connell, Wall Street Journal, 4/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.