Going back to that age-old question within pharma: Does a pharma company "make drugs" or do they "sell drugs"?
Well, the truth of course is that this is a cycle and the research and sales halves of the pharmaco are dependent on one another. The commercial organization needs new products to sell and generate revenue. The research organization needs a percent of the revenue from sales to re-invest in new R&D.
So there is an up-side for clinical development when pharma use direct-to-consumer advertising as a tool to increase sales.
But there is certainly a downside. And Ken Getz from Tufts does his usual outstanding job describing the implications of public perception on clinical research. How have we contributed to the public's lack of understanding the risk of medicines and clinical trials? What role has DTC advertising played in painting the image of high-benefit / no-risk?
It may be a moot point -- if studies continue to mount showing DTC ads are "losing their punch" then the fate of DTC will be decided by the market.