Judging by a recent survey, that may seem to be the case. Direct-to-consumer ads are mentioned mostly by docs to increase patient acceptance for a medicine that's already been chosen. But unaided - or spontaneous - mention by patients or actual patient requests for a specific med is a rare phenomenon, according to the survey byVerilogue.
The firm tracked brand requests coupled with a reference to specific ad campaigns across 12,500 doctor-patient conversations from 2008 and covered 20 disease states and 46 different branded prescription drugs. Overall, DTC 'pull-through' in conversations in a doc's office is low - just 3 percent - and specific patient requests for advertised med are even lower - .002 percent.
Significantly, the most frequently pulled-through brands from the firm's database failed to align with brands where DTC spending is the largest. Not including Internet ads, these were - $186 million on Advair; $180.6 million on Plavix; $171.6 million on Cymbalta; $151 million on Lyrica; and $146.9 million on Ambien. The 'most referenced' DTC brands were Boniva, Enbrel, Humira and Reclast, with Detrol LA and Gardasil tied for fifth place.
Patients, meanwhile, most often brought up side effect concerns arising from fair balance statements in Advair TV spots. Such as? "I saw on TV that Advair can cause pneumonia in some patients." And Ambien, another of the most heavily promoted drugs, prompted this reply: "Yeah, I saw the commercial. I think it's, uh, Ambien that says you might go out and eat and not remember. I thought, 'Great all I need.' " All that money and for what?