The Changing Role Of Pharmaceutical Advertising

Traditionally, the advertising and promotion of pharmaceutical products were directed primarily to physicians, with some limited advertising and promotion being directed to pharmacists. With the expiration of patents on some major drugs in the 1980s and 1990s, generic versions of the drugs became available from competing manufacturers. The generic drugs were priced lower than the brand-name products, so pharmacists got laws passed allowing them to substitute generic products for the brand-name products. This gave pharmacists more control over which generic company's products to purchase and dispense. Advertising and promotion to pharmacists increased. When committees, usually composed of pharmacists, became very important in deciding which drugs could, or could not, be prescribed or reimbursed under third-party payment programs (medicaid, HMOs, and other insurance programs), advertising and promotion were also directed to the decision makers in those organizations. More recently, advertising is also being directed to the consumer.

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