Nga Hau E Wha position statement and invitation to comment:
Nga Hau E Wha talks about what’s happening at a local, regional and national level in the mental health and addiction sector. One of the national issues discussed at our last meeting on 2nd September 2013 was Direct to Consumer Advertising in mental health.
Direct to consumer advertising (DTCA) usually refers to the marketing of pharmaceutical products but can apply in other areas as well. This form of advertising is directed toward patients, rather than healthcare professionals. Forms of DTC advertising include TV, print, radio and other mass and social media. (Wikipedia)
While initially some members thought that it is giving information to patients, with further literature review it was found it actually doesn’t necessarily improve patient outcomes. Examples of DTC advertising are Effexor also known as Venlafaxine and Risperdal Consta.
Key messages of the literature review include:
• DTCA is currently allowed only in the US and New Zealand (which we found to be an interesting fact).
• Opponents question the wisdom of DTCA since it potentially distorts the patient – doctor relationship and generates demand without necessarily improving outcomes.
• Proponents suggest DTCA is a legitimate form of patient education with the potential for more informed patients and better health care.
• Evidence confirms that DTCA does influence patient demand and doctor prescribing behaviour. No evidence of health benefit was found since this had not been examined in any detail.
S Gilbody, P Wilson, I Watt, Benefits and harms
of direct consumer advertising: a systematic review.
Nga Hau E Wha discussed some of the issues:
Not giving information about what other alternatives are available.
Advertising does not discuss the information on medication especially side effects
Does not talk about special authority details or cost to patients
People under the Mental Health Act (do you have a choice?)
Is marketing ethical given the banning of this in other countries?
We know it influences prescribing practices and therefore drug company profits
Some advertising was possibly aimed at family to help ensure their loved one is compliant with medication eg Risperdal Consta.
TV advertising is only on channels 3,4 and Maori, is this directly targeting a particular population?
Nga Hau E Wha is generally opposed to DTCA in mental health and questioned some of their networks to hear what consumers had to say, see below:
“I feel really uncomfortable about the advertising too, I think because it promotes one option while others do not have the money to have a voice”.
“The system is already weighted so heavily towards medication (over talking therapies and other alternatives) because of the medical framework it operates in, this sort of thing just adds to that”:
“In the case of Risperdal TV ads, it presents the long-acting infection as a better option, where as many consumers actually find it a harder, generally more horrible drug to be on”.
As a group Nga Hau E Wha finds this topic extremely interesting and may do further investigation. It is interesting to note that the topic was brought to the table by a member being approached by a few psychiatrists based in the Waikato who were opposed to DTCA, they wanted to know the opinion of consumers as they continued to enter into debate with drug companies.
Written by Kelly Ware Midland Regional Consumer Representative.
If you would like to comment about this article we welcome feedback via the chair Nic Magrath, firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about Nga Hau E Wha visit their website .