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Keywords:

  • DTCA;
  • pharmaceutical advertising;
  • help-seeking;
  • disease awareness;
  • regulation

Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to elicit and compare the responses of Australian consumers towards New Zealand (NZ) direct-to-consumer-advertisements (DTCA) for prescription medicines and matched pharmaceutical company-sponsored advertisements from Australia.

Methods: A survey questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of residents in a metropolitan area in NSW. Potential participants were randomised to receive one of four different advertisements: two for weight loss and two for Alzheimer's disease. A total of 413 responses were received and analysed.

Results: Participants reported that they were not likely to ask for a prescription from their doctor as a result of seeing any of the advertisements in the study. The Australian disease awareness advertisement that did not refer to a medicinal treatment was perceived as more valuable than the NZ DTCA or other Australian advertisement. Overall, participants found it easier to make sense of the more informational advertisements, and felt that there was insufficient information regarding the disease/condition and treatments in the more emotive and transformational advertisements.

Conclusions: While there is concern over potential negative effects of pharmaceutical-sponsored disease awareness advertisements, this study found that Australian consumers perceived an informational advertisement with a list of disease symptoms to be valuable.

Implications: These findings contribute to debate in New Zealand and Australia regarding DTCA and disease awareness advertising, and have the potential to inform guidelines relevant to the advertising of prescription medicine in each country.