Drugs Ads Prompt Requests to Doctors for About One in Ten Patients

Media ads for prescription drugs prompted 7.5 percent of people in a recent survey to ask their doctor about a prescription.

But the doctors only agreed about a third of the time.

They were more likely to go ahead and write a prescription when the person asking was over 65.  Almost half of seniors (46.4 percent) were given a prescription for a medicine that they saw advertised and asked their doctor about.

In the same survey, 6 out of 10 people said that ads for nutritional supplements weren’t trustworthy, but 12 percent bought the supplements based on the ads anyway.

The information is based on the National Survey of Healthcare Consumers:  Advertising for Prescription Drugs, conducted as part of the Thomson Reuters Pulse Healthcare Survey in collaboration with National Public Radio.  Surveyers telephoned 3,013 households in early June asking if they had seen ads for prescription drugs and nutritional supplements.

The survey gathered information about ages, education, and household income and asked questions about ads, trusted sources of health information, and whether people asked doctors to prescribe drugs or purchased nutritional supplements based on ads they saw.

Two-thirds of people had seen or heard ads for prescription medicine.  The percentage of people saying they were aware of ads rose with age, education and income.

About half of people thought that the ads balanced risk and benefit just about right, although 1 in 5 felt that risks were stressed too much, and 3 in 10 thought benefits were overstressed.

More than half of people (57.8 percent) said that physicians were their main source of healthcare information.  A little over 1 in 10 (11.2 percent) found their main healthcare information on the internet, 7.9 percent asked a pharmacist, and 23.1 percent got their information elsewhere.

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