DTCA: Improving patient education or simply increasing pharmaceutical profits?

By Sharat K. Kusuma, MD; Ryan M. Nunley, MD; Samir Mehta, MD; James W. Genuario, MD; Jeanie Kennedy; and the Washington Health Policy Fellows

Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) in the healthcare arena generally refers to marketing activity conducted by a producer or provider of a drug, medical device, or medical service that bypasses physicians and other healthcare professionals and focuses on the actual recipient (the patient or “consumer”). Until recently, pharmaceutical companies directed marketing efforts to the prescribers of their products, such as physicians and other healthcare professionals. For many years, patients had limited autonomy with regard to prescribed drugs and treatments. Such an environment naturally favored the use of physician-directed marketing campaigns by pharmaceutical companies.

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