While MSNBC may trumpet a study showing consumer drug ads don't work as a consumer victory, this in fact backs the industry's own view of the ads.
In the study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, 168 family doctors logged 1,647 patient visits, and only 58 of the patients asked for drugs by name.
That's just 3.5%, the study trumpeted.
But look closely. Many of the encounters came in community health clinics, where people are usually less brand-conscious, just symptom conscious (sometimes unconscious).
In offices engaged in private practice, 7.2% asked for drugs by name. Those most likely to specify a drug were already taking three or more medications, and having a female doctor also encouraged patients to speak up.
There's more. In 62% of the cases the clinicians reported the requested drug was not their first choice. Yet in 53% of the cases the patients got the drugs they asked for.
I got a taste of this myself last week. My hypertension was acting up. I told my doctor about an article I'd done on calcium channel blockers. She prescribed them.
Most of the doctors contacted by MSNBC -- which as part of NBC Universal has significant skin in this game -- took the side of "no worries." Surprised?
Back in December, BNET reported ad researchers Millward Brown complaining that in fact the key points of drug ads do get through, that the ads are effective.
There is a double game being played here. Doctors are increasingly resisting drug company blandishments. The industry is even cutting out the tchotchkes.
As noted here earlier former New England Journal of Medicine editor Marcia Angell calls the relationship between medicine and drug companies by a single word -- corruption.
A study media can claim debunks the idea that ads cause people to ask for drugs by name, but which actually proves the exact same point, is just what the industry needed.