Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs


Publication Date: October 2002

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Business; Health



The advertising of prescription drugs directly to consumers (DTC) by pharmaceutical companies has been characterized as any promotional effort that targets the general public in the lay media. Spending by the drug industry on DTC advertising has grown from $791 million in 1996 to $2.5 billion in 2000, with most of the money being spent to promote 50 drugs. Although the impact of this advertising is unclear, there is a growing consensus among health professionals and others that DTC advertising is linked in some way to the rising cost of health care.