Blog — The Snow Report

Sex, Lies and Healthcare Marketing

Posted on October 1, 2013 by

Sex, lies and healthcare marketing go together all too often, but the good news is that few of the drug advertising claims on TV are actually false, according to a study published in the September 2013 issue of Journal of General Internal Medicine. Yet, as other studies suggest, drug ads may be encouraging gender bias as in the case of psychoactive drug advertising (see discussion below).

Thanks to Gary Schwitzer in, for writing about “Content Analysis of False and Misleading Claims in Television Advertising for Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs,” by authors Adrienne E. Faerber PhD and David Kreling PhD.

Sex, lies and healthcare marketing

Journal article questions credibility of TV drug ads

In the study, the authors analyzed TV drug ads over a two-year period and found that over half of drug claims were potentially misleading. False claims accounted for only two percent of the prescription drug ads and seven percent of the nonprescription ads.

As Gary points out from the study’s findings, the average consumer may see up to 30 hours of drug advertising while spending 15-20 minutes per visit with their caregiver.

Adding to the potential problem is the gender bias reflected in some drug advertising. For example, psychoactive drug advertising portrayed women 62 percent of the time, according to a study published in a Brazilian journal. Judy Stone writes on the issue of women and drug advertising in the Scientific American blog.

As a Minneapolis healthcare content marketing firm, we care deeply about helping our clients engage their customers in credible, sustainable ways. Sex, lies and healthcare marketing may go together sometimes, but we’re also encouraged that most healthcare marketing avoids false claims. The misleading claims issue is something for the industry to work on.


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