Objective: To investigate direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs that are relevant to urological conditions. Evidence suggests that DTCA of prescription drugs increase pharmaceutical sales. Concern about such advertising methods has recently increased owing to the market withdrawal of heavily marketed drugs that were found to have serious health risks. Methods: Three consecutive issues of 26 popular magazines during a 3-month period were screened for urology-related DTCA. Advertisements were abstracted using a standardized evaluation form that was pilot-tested in a separate sample of nonurological advertisements. Variables analyzed included the type of advertisement, claims of effectiveness, references of research studies, inducements, and use of tables, figures, and pictures. Results: We identified 8 unique DTCA in 4 different magazines (Ladies Home Journal, Golf Digest, Sports Illustrated, and Good Housekeeping). All advertisements were disease-specific and targeted patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia-related symptoms (n = 3), incontinence (n = 3), or erectile dysfunction (n = 2). The median number of claims made per DTCA was 3 (range, 2-6). None of the claims made were supported by research data, as presented in tables or figures, or referenced peer-reviewed publications. The most common types of appeals addressed symptom control (8/8), lifestyle improvement (7/8), effectiveness (4/8), and dependability (3/8), while none addressed drug safety. Conclusions: DTCA of prescription drugs for urological conditions are found in select journals and focus on few highly prevalent conditions. None of the advertisement claims identified in this study were supported by research data. There seems to be significant room for improvement in the quality of information provided by urological advertisements.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by departmental funding .
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