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Why Do Drug Ads Still Work Despite Widespread Skepticism?

What words come to mind when you think about drug companies? “Greedy” and “shifty” are frequent favorites, according to this article in AdWeek. Badmouthing Big Pharma has become a rather popular U.S. pastime, with most agreeing that they have lost faith in the truthful dissemination of information about drugs and their potential health hazards.

According to a Harris Interactive poll for the Pharmaceutical Safety Institute, only 10 percent of respondents stated they are “very” confident that drug makers will eventually disseminate all information, whether positive or negative, that they have about the safety of their drugs. Meanwhile, 29 percent answered they were “not at all” confident that such disclosures would ever take place.

These numbers would lead you to believe that consumers are now less likely to listen to drug ads, right? Not so, according to this poll. Some 51 percent still said that drug ads encourage them to ask questions when they go to their doctor, and a whopping 44 percent actually believe that drug ads make them more knowledgeable about treatments for their ailments.

No wonder Big Pharma spends millions of dollars on advertising each year. It works like a charm; keeps people in the "medical loop," and keeps them unaware of the many alternative options like basic nutrition and exercise, which can prevent most of the ailments these ads are geared toward.

Pharmaceutical Safety Institute April 11, 2007

ADWEEK May 28, 2007