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Drug Advertising

When people switch on U.S. television today, they will find—in addition to dramas, comedies, and news—a sea of consumer advertisements enticing them to eat burgers, buy cars, and talk to their doctors about drugs. Prescription drug pitches, known as direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, emerged on TV, on radio, and in magazines after 1997 and have altered the landscape of how consumers learn about medicine. Before that time, most patients heard about drugs from their doctors or from friends and family members. Today, U.S. consumers find out about prescription drugs from TV and the Internet, often before having a conversation with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

Assessing the Controversy

The advertising of drugs has been controversial in many quarters, with opponents arguing that marketing campaigns create unnecessary desire for ...

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