Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Medications: Implications for Patients With Cancer

Pamela Hallquist Viale

ONF 2002, 29(3), 505-513. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.505-513

Purpose/Objectives: To review the phenomenon of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription medications in the media, with an overview of pertinent studies in the literature regarding patients' and healthcare professionals' perspectives on DTC advertising.

Data Sources: Journal articles, media, and clinical experience.

Data Synthesis: DTC advertising of prescription medications is extremely prevalent in U.S. society. Advertising of medications is an expensive business; yearly spending is expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2005. Although opinions vary regarding DTC advertising, healthcare professionals, including oncology nurses, must be prepared to discuss DTC-advertised medications and treatments with their patients.

Conclusions: Communication is the key to helping patients decipher the deluge of DTC advertisements in the media and determine the accuracy of this ever-increasing source of medical information.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses need to be aware of the increases in DTC advertising of prescription medications and the importance of guiding patients through appropriate medication choices by education.

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