Consumer responses to price disclosure in DTC pharmaceutical advertising

A Clemson University study explored how the public would likely respond to disclosure of prescription drug costs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing, a tactic designed to lower prices. Researchers used an Amazon-sponsored online job board to recruit 580 paid volunteers for the experiment.

A Clemson University study explored how the public would likely respond to disclosure of prescription drug costs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing, a tactic designed to lower prices. Researchers used an Amazon-sponsored online job board to recruit 580 paid volunteers for the experiment. Told to assume a recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, each participant was exposed to different variations of advertisements for a pretend treatment. Based on questionnaires completed afterwards, the investigators determined that ads disclosing a low cost for the product did not make consumers any more or any less likely to ask their provider or insurer about the drug, research it online, or take it. DTC messages advertising a high-cost drug, meanwhile, made it much less probable that the viewer would take any of those actions. Consumer interest recovered, however, if a modifying statement was added suggesting that patients might qualify for coupons or other assistance to the out-of-pocket obligation to as low as $0. In summary, the researchers say their results indicate that requiring pharmaceutical firms to disclose prices in DTC marketing has the potential to curb consumer interest in high-priced drugs, but that the inclusion of modifiers may negate this effect.