New Zealand is the only other country besides the United States to allow Direct-to-Consumer advertising (DTC). The countries that ban this advertising are worried that it will cause more harm than good. In Janelle Appelquist’s presentation in our Comm 410 class, a domino effect was brought up. These DTC ads tend to increase the amount of people who are on prescription medicine. These medicines often cause side effects which require more medication to fix, and so on and so on. Other worries include Doctors being pressured to describe the brand-name medication over the cheaper, generic kind as well as the ads being misleading and false.
The FDA controls the ads in the United States and the ads in New Zealand are regulated by the Ministry of Health and the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code. These codes and agencies do their best to prevent misleading or false advertisements, but it does not stop the companies from “driving” the public to their brand.
Those who argue for DTC advertising say that the companies are not necessarily driving the public to a specific brand, but simply igniting a conversation between the patient and the doctor. If the patient sees an ad that may describe some of the patient’s symptoms, the patient will go in to the Doctor to talk about it. The Doctor can then determine if that medication is the right fit for the patient (hopefully the Doctor is competent!).
This article by Matthew Arnold is an interesting argument for the use of DTC advertising. The lecture from Janelle Appelquist included many negetive aspects of the advertising, so it is interesting to see the other side. Arnold says that these advertisements are very beneficial to the public because they make them aware of a problem they might not have known they had and make them visit the Doctor. His theory is that the public is less likely to go visit the Doctor if they believe everything is fine.
It will be interesting to see if any more countries decide to allow DTC advertising or if New Zealand or the United States decide to ban it.