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The practice of advertising pharmaceutical drugs to patients is commonly referred to as direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising (DTCPA) and has been effective—if controversial—since the practice began in its current form in the 1980s. The United States is one of the few countries to permit DTCPA, where it is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA guidelines for broadcast DTCPA were relaxed in 1997, which contributed to a steep increase in industry expenditure from $340 million in 1995 to $3.47 billion in 2012. With up to 80 drug advertisements broadcast every hour on U.S. television, studies show that DTCPA is the foremost type of health information that the public receives. Proponents of DTCPA claim that it delivers significant educational benefits and reduces the stigma ...

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