Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) in Pharmaceutical Industry: An Inquiry from Public Policy to Practice and Consumers’ Perspective
This research paper has addressed an explicit gap in the literature of pharmaceutical industry and healthcare management for a marketing promotion technique, direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA), which has remained to be an academically neglected area by the scholars of Pakistan. Thus, the purpose of this research was to unearth the prevalence of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of over-the-counter (OTC) or non-prescription medicines and to assess its impact on consumer purchase behavior. Mixing of two qualitative methods comprising meta synthesis of literature followed by twenty five in-depth qualitative interviews with medical doctors, pharmacists, drug policy developers cum regulators and marketers of OTC medicines, and patients in Karachi-Pakistan (comprising medical doctors, pharmacists, and healthcare marketers) took place. Samples were selected through snowball sampling method, while the data was analyzed through thematic analysis. The research presents quite useful insights as it has revealed that DTCA is exploited by certain unscrupulous circles, which are attempting to market their unlicensed and unregistered medicines while with prior approval, federal drug authority only allows DTCA for only registered OTC medicines and some multivitamin complexes. It was concluded that DTCA has a profound influence only on perceptions and need recognition stage out of the five stages of consumer purchasing model. Thus, pharmaceutical and health industry experts are advised to change their attitude towards DTCA in Pakistan and must avail it as useful means of promotion and branding of medicines in Pakistan in conjunction with such othertools.
Keywords: Direct-to-consumer Advertising, Pharmaceutical Marketing, Healthcare Policy and Management, Consumer Behavior