At a time when direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs on television are coming under fire, TV has emerged as the category's dominant ad medium, according to findings of the 2004 DTC Monitor Study. The study, which was released Tuesday by NOP World Health, shows that TV ad awareness has grown to 89 percent of prescription drug users, up from 69 percent in NOP's 2003 study. During the same period, awareness of prescription drug ads declined for every other medium, with the exception of the Internet, which rose to 8 percent in 2004 from only 2 percent in 2003.
"The web is becoming an important 'intermediary' between DTC-aware patients and their doctors," according to Sue Ramspacher, senior vice president of NOP World Health's Healthcare Patient practice area. "One-third of those who contacted their physicians after seeing an ad, first visited the Internet. The use of online sources of information is already far exceeding the historical usage of 800 numbers."
Magazines, the base buy for prescription drug brands before 1997 when the Food and Drug Administration authorized more explicit use of DTC brands in TV advertising, declined precipitously. Awareness of magazine ads fell to 17 percent from 31 percent.
Awareness of advertising in doctors' offices, meanwhile, decline to 11 percent from 17 percent, while word-of-mouth dropped to 3 percent from 7 percent.
The good news for all media is that DTC ad spending has been soaring, growing 30 percent in 2004 to $4.2 billion overall.
Within major prescription drug classes, spending grew even more dramatically, from an average of $165 million per category in 2003 to $245 million in 2004, an increase of 48%, according to NOP. Both existing brands and new launches, such as recent erectile dysfunction entries, are generating these dramatic increases in DTC investment, the company said.
DTC Ad Awareness By Medium
|June '04||June '03|
|Word of Mouth||3%||7%|
Source: NOP World Health's DTC Monitor. Base: June '03 = 4,682; June '04 = 5,671.