- Term Papers and Free Essays

Opinions Of Pharmaceutical Direct-To Consumer Marketing On College Students

Essay by   •  March 22, 2011  •  2,055 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,504 Views

Essay Preview: Opinions Of Pharmaceutical Direct-To Consumer Marketing On College Students

Report this essay
Page 1 of 9


Today consumers who watch television programs and read popular magazines are bombarded by drug advertisements which promise to cure a plethora of illnesses, ranging from allergies to depression. Until recently, pharmaceutical companies have been prevented from advertising directly to consumers. However, in 1997, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to loosen its advertising restrictions, and "direct-to-consumer" (DTC) marketing gained popularity among pharmaceutical companies (4). In 2001 alone, $2.5 billon was spent on DTC marketing (6). Considering the large amount of money spent on this form of marketing, the goal of this research project is to determine the opinions of future consumers, current college students, on DTC marketing.

While the Federal Trade Commission monitors the advertising for most consumer products, the FDA alone must ensure that the claims given by DTC advertisements are reinforced by science (1). However, given its staff of only 13 drug-marketing reviewers and overall budgeting constraints, the FDA may find that task overwhelming (1). While the FDA requires that drug advertisements be submitted to the agency before they are aired on television or printed in magazines, not all pharmaceutical companies submit their advertisements.

Opponents of DTC marketing also argue that the increase in its popularity has led to inflated drug costs. In recent years drug spending has increased by 17% a year, in part due to rising drug prices. Currently, drug spending in the United States is greater than in any other nation (2). Critics argue that drug companies promote only the newest and most expensive "blockbuster" prescriptions, when less expensive ones may be just as effective (2).

If recent sales trends are any indication, the DTC marketing boom is certain to continue. In fact, the amount of money the pharmaceutical industry spends each year on DTC marketing is expected to approach $7.5 billion by 2005 (3). It is essential, therefore, to determine the opinions of future consumers on this influential, highly successful marketing campaign to forecast the future of DTC marketing.


The first stage of research consisted of two focus groups. Fifteen students participated in each group. The students were given two different examples of DTC marketing found in popular media and were asked a series of questions pertaining directly to the advertisements. The students were then asked a second set of questions regarding their general opinions toward DTC marketing.

From their answers I developed a series of 38 survey questions. The survey was administrated via the Internet to 100 students. The participants were students enrolled in businesses classes at the University of Florida. These students received extra credit for their participation. This incentive guaranteed a high response rate.

The 38 survey questions were reduced to six factors that measured the opinions of the future consumers on DTC marketing.

Table 1

Factors that Measured the Opinions of the Future Consumers on DTC Marketing

Factor Beliefs

Informative Value of DTC Marketing Consumers make better decisions about their health.

Consumers read the small print in advertisements.

Advertisements are not misleading.

Advertisements do not cause unnecessary drug use.

Impact on Patient-Physician Relationship Consumers make better decisions about their health.

Advertising makes it easier for consumers to speak with a physician.

Advertising motivates consumers to seek a physician's care.

Detrimental Effects Advertisements need stronger regulations.

Physicians feel pressured by patients.

Effectiveness Advertisements are entertaining.

Advertisements reach their intended audience.

Advertisements encourage more consumers to be more proactive about their healthcare.

Social Responsibility Only the safest drugs are advertised.

Physicians support DTC advertising.

Advertisements offer enough nondrug alternatives.

The dependent variables were action-based and included making an appointment with a doctor, consulting a pharmacist, calling a toll-free number, referring to a particular magazine and checking a Web site. A dependent variable called "action" was a composite of the previous five variables.

Another set of dependent variables was used in measuring respondents' assessments of the responsibility for the negative effects of DTC marketing. The variables were regressed using the same set of six predictors. These dependent variables included holding the physicians, pharmaceutical companies and consumers responsible.

Finally, t-tests were created to compare subgroups of the sample. The subgroups were composed of gender, academic major (business/advertising vs. all other) and prescription drug usage (yes or no).


The means of the six predictor factors demonstrated neutral attitudes and beliefs toward DTC marketing. A score of 1 corresponded to a strong negative view of DTC marketing, while a score of 5 corresponded to a strong positive view of DTC marketing, with the exception of the detrimental factor, for which the scores were reversed.

Table 2

Means of the Six Predictor Factors

Factor Mean

Attitude 3.27

Informative Value of DTC Marketing 2.76

Impact on Patient-Physician Relationship 3.23

Detrimental Effects 3.21



Download as:   txt (14.4 Kb)   pdf (170.9 Kb)   docx (15.3 Kb)  
Continue for 8 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 03). Opinions Of Pharmaceutical Direct-To Consumer Marketing On College Students. Retrieved 03, 2011, from

"Opinions Of Pharmaceutical Direct-To Consumer Marketing On College Students" 03 2011. 2011. 03 2011 <>.

"Opinions Of Pharmaceutical Direct-To Consumer Marketing On College Students.", 03 2011. Web. 03 2011. <>.

"Opinions Of Pharmaceutical Direct-To Consumer Marketing On College Students." 03, 2011. Accessed 03, 2011.