Revisit: Pharmaceutical DTCA


Pharmaceutical Direct-to-Consumer Advertising: Past, Present, and Future, Special issue of International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing; Deadline 30 Jun 2012

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Call for papers
International Journal of
Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing

Special issue on
Pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising: past, present, and future

Guest Editors:

Dr Avinandan Mukherjee, Montclair State University, USA
Dr Yam B. Limbu, Montclair State University, USA

Introduction and theme

Pharmaceutical Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) includes different types of promotional efforts employed by pharmaceutical companies to provide prescription drug information to the general public through consumer-oriented media. It is allowed currently only in the USA and New Zealand. In the past decade, pharmaceutical companies have been involved in intense direct-to-consumer advertising and promotion of prescription drugs. Spending on DTCA of prescription drugs has been accelerating. It grew from $2.5 billion in 2000 to $3.3 billion in 2003, $4.2 billion in 2005, and $4.5 billion in 2009. There was a 330 per cent increase in DTCA spending between 1996 and 2005. As a result, the average American television viewer spent about 16 hours annually watching prescription drug advertisements; that was far more time than they spent with their family physicians.

The environment in which the DTCA of prescription drugs operates is unique in two ways:

  1. While consumers are targeted by DTC advertisers, only physicians have the right to prescribe the advertised drug; and
  2. Considering the risks associated with prescription drugs, regulatory bodies and consumer protection agencies are more involved in approving and monitoring all DTCA communications.

Consumer segments based on a variety of characteristics, e.g. demographics and psychographics, such as health beliefs and health orientations, respond differently to various dimensions of DTCA communication, such as information, comprehension, trust and valence.

While DTCA has been credited for improvements in pharmaceutical sales growth, patient education, and improved health outcomes, it has been criticized for its role in drug over-utilization, public health concerns, higher drug costs, and physician dissonance. These issues become more paramount in the wake of the high involvement nature of prescription drugs, the average consumer’s lack of scientific knowledge, and their propensity to self-diagnose and ask physicians for specific medications. DTCA is thus an extremely complex and yet a very important topic that deserves researchers’ sincere attention. It has been an issue of intense public policy attention and debate since the early years of its existence. Unfortunately, it is one of the most understudied areas in pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing. Empirical research on the effect of DTCA is especially scarce. Much of the extant research on DTCA is exploratory in nature, mostly based on literature reviews and using content analysis as the methodology. Comprehensive and empirically validated models of consumer responses to DTCA are still rare in the literature and little is known about its effects on the attitudes and behaviour of concerned parties such as consumers, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers.

Thus, the main goal of this IJPHM special issue is to address these research gaps. Authors are invited to submit empirical or conceptual papers that may have substantial practical and/or theoretical implications for various aspects of DTCA.

Topics for the special issue

Although manuscripts on any topic related to DTCA are welcome, papers on the following topics are highly encouraged:

  • Stakeholders’ (e.g. consumers, physicians, nurses, salesforce) responses/attitudes to DTCA
  • Patient-physician interactions, communication, and relationships
  • Effect of DTCA on physician prescription behaviour
  • Information search from sources other than physicians as a result of DTCA (e.g. online search)
  • Other behavioral intentions (e.g. prescription request, intent to recommend, WOM)
  • Content of DTC advertisements (e.g. textual, pictorial)
  • Effect of DTCA expenditure on financial performance (e.g. price/ sales/market share/ROI/shareholders’ value)
  • Trend analysis of DTCA expenditures by product category and consumer segments
  • Role of internet and technology on DTCA (e.g. DTC web sites, blogs, social media etc.)
  • Risk disclosure and perceived risk
  • DTC claims or message credibility/source or media credibility/ perceived believability
  • Role of different types of message appeal, persuasion
  • Situation and context effects
  • Role of affect, cognition, and emotion
  • Role of different types of involvement, motivation, and individual differences
  • Role of consumer knowledge/expertise/familiarity
  • Consumer recall and memory
  • DTCA exposure, attention, and interpretation
  • Consumer learning, awareness, and literacy
  • Impact on drug and therapy compliance, non-compliance, and adherence
  • Effectiveness of different DTCA information sources (e.g. print, TV, online, radio, outdoor, direct mail)
  • Role of demographics on DTCA perceptions
  • Historical evolution and growth of DTCA
  • Ethical issues relating to DTCA
  • Government policy, laws, and regulations
  • Pharmaceutical industry’s perspectives on impact of DTCA
  • Attitudes towards and likely adoption of DTCA in countries other than the USA and NZ
  • Macro impact of DTCA (e.g. impact on economy, healthcare sector, healthy living, patient care)
  • Future of DTCA.

Research methods

Quantitative and qualitative studies, including marketing and consumer behaviour models, experiments, correlational studies, causal studies, comparative studies, descriptive studies, literature reviews, metaanalysis, case studies, viewpoint articles, pedagogical innovations, and book reviews are all welcome. Papers can adopt a historical, current or future perspective.

Submission process

Manuscripts should be submitted no later than 30 June 2012. The special issue is expected to be published in early 2013. All manuscripts will be subjected to double-blind peer review and should follow the general guidelines for authors of the International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, which can be found at:

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to IJPHM editorial e-mail at:

Please contact the Guest Editors of this special issue at the following e-mail addresses, if you have any questions:

Dr Avinandan Mukherjee


Dr Yam Limbu
E-mail: Research you can use

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