What are the public health effects of direct-to-consumer drug advertising?

PLoS Med. 2006 Mar;3(3):e145. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030145. Epub 2006 Mar 28.


Only two industrialized countries, the United States and New Zealand, allow direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription medicines, although New Zealand is planning a ban. The challenge for these governments is ensuring that DTCA is more beneficial than harmful. Proponents of DTCA argue that it helps to inform the public about available treatments and stimulates appropriate use of drugs for high-priority illnesses (such as statin use in people with ischemic heart disease). Critics argue that the information in the adverts is often biased and misleading, and that DTCA raises prescribing costs without net evidence of health benefits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising*
  • Community Participation*
  • Drug Industry*
  • Humans
  • New Zealand
  • Patient Compliance
  • Placebo Effect
  • Public Health*
  • United States