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Price Information in Heart Drug Ads Unmoved by Viewers

Online research shows that disclosure of modest price tags in direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) did not deter people from wanting to switch medications after viewing an ad for a heart drug.

Among survey participants at high risk of cardiovascular disease, those who randomly watched advertisements for drugs — ticagrelor (Brilinta), sacubitril/valsartan (Entresto) , ilovolumab (Repatha), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto) — compared with other consumers assigned to view non-drug ads, they were more likely to subsequently report:

  • Intention to change the medicine
  • Intentional in Online searches for information about drugs
    • Drug manufacturers are more favorable
    • Believe that medicine is an effective way to treat heart disease
      • Believe that heart disease is a serious disease

      According to researchers led by Dr. Matthew Eisenberg of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School, people’s intentions and beliefs did not change when videos were added with price information from the SSR health database

      “These results are consistent with the broader literature on health care price transparency, suggesting that public information does not alter demand in a significant way,” the group said in Reported on JAMA Health Forum . “The lack of an association with price disclosure in DTCA suggests that policymakers should consider alternative strategies to facilitate value-based prescription drug decisions.”

      For many heart patients, this may Just can’t afford to take established cardiovascular drugs. One study estimated that offering Medicare Advantage and Part D patients a 30-day course of quadruple therapy for heart failure would cost nearly $100 out-of-pocket.

      For years, policy makers have debated different ways to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs in the country.

      The Department of Health and Human Services tried unsuccessfully to force drug companies to start putting prices on all TV commercials in 2019.

      The idea behind price disclosures in the DTCA is that they may deter consumers from seeking treatments at high advertised prices, thereby forcing drug manufacturers to meet market demand at lower prices. “Alternatively, disclosure may be ineffective if consumers cannot assess prescription drug prices, or if they view prices as a signal of quality,” Eisenberg’s group noted.

      Other efforts to lower prices include the Reduction in Inflation Act, approved by the Senate and expected to pass the House on Friday, will finally allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and potentially pull it down.

      For their study, Eisenberg and colleagues looked for a nationally representative population of people at high risk for cardiovascular disease. They recruited volunteers from the Ipsos online survey platform who were aged 40 to 64, had high cholesterol, smoked or were overweight or obese.

      Survey conducted in summer 2021. Participants were randomly assigned to ads for cardiac drugs (n=926), ads for price disclosure (n=921), or ads for non-drugs (n=902) ). Each study group watched five 1-minute video ads.

      Mean age was 53.8 years and 54% were male.

      The study authors acknowledged that their online platform was unable to capture the experience of viewing advertisements across various media platforms. Furthermore, they said, the link between stated behavioral intent and eventual behavioral change may be weak.

      The harms of DTCA suggested in previous studies include patients receiving inappropriate or unnecessary drug prescriptions, and a possible decrease in medication adherence in certain populations.

      • Nicole Lou is a reporter for MedPage Today covering cardiology news and other medical developments. Follow


This study was supported by the Illinois Affordable Funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Fund of the Sexual Healing Alliance.

Eisenberg also reported on funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute of Nursing, the National Institute on Aging, and Arnold Ventures.



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