We systematically reviewed the research on patients' and prescribers' perceptions of, and self-reported behaviors prompted by, exposure to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) (For ease of reading we use the term "advertising" to encompass advertising and promotional labeling. Broad use of this term does not imply endorsement by FDA) of prescription drugs that occurs in the context of a clinical encounter. This research offers an important perspective on the broader goal of incorporating patient and prescriber voices in decision-making. Outcomes included patient information seeking, medication adherence, patient requests for DTCA-promoted prescription drugs, prescribing behaviors, and perceptions of the patient-prescriber relationship and interactions. We searched PubMed and other databases from 1982-2017 and identified 38 studies meeting our study criteria. Of these, 24 studies used patient-reported outcomes and 18 used prescriber-reported outcomes (four used both). Studies suggested some potential benefits of exposure to DTCA, including patients' enhanced information-seeking, increased patient requests for appropriate prescriptions (when addressing potential underuse) and patients' perceptions of higher-quality interactions with prescribers. Most prescribers perceived a neutral influence on the quality of their clinical interactions with patients regarding DTCA. Harms included patients receiving prescriptions for drugs that were not appropriate for them or that the patients did not need, and the potential for DTCA to interfere with medication adherence in some populations, such as those with mental illness. The potential benefits of DTCA on the patient-provider encounter must be balanced with the potential for harms.
Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and the patient-prescriber encounter
A systematic review