Where Would We Be If People Felt Fine as Is?

The Prescription Room

The ad business has taken its lumps in recent years, but it can point to one grand success. Thanks in large part to direct-to-consumer ads, prescription drugs have been selling like medicinal hotcakes. An Ipsos PharmTrends report notes that the buyer base for these drugs increased 19 percent between 1997 and 2002. The overall rise has been paced by growth in specific “ailment categories” where consumer ad spending has been substantial. For instance, the number of households that have bought a prescription allergy drug at least once rose 76 percent, and the number buying drugs in the Proton-Pump Inhibitor/ Heartburn category climbed by 192 percent. Once people start on a drug, consumer ads have the salubrious effect of reminding them to refill the prescriptions, thereby boosting “persistency” levels. One of the biggest effects of the ads has simply been to drive people to see their doctors: 20 percent of consumers say a prescription-drug ad has prompted them to consult with their doctors.