Pharmaceutical advertising is the dynamic process by which a market for pharmaceutical care is actualized. It includes all the activities and processes executed by groups, agencies, and organizations to fill a gap (in this case, a market) in the pharmaceutical care. Marketing, on the other hand, is the process of planning and carrying out the creation, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, good, and services that satisfy the needs of individuals and organizations.
Pharmaceutical advertising has played a fundamental role in the delivery of health care since its outset. And to fully understand its impact, one has to consider the various roles it plays in the health care continuum.
As research and development focus on chemical compounds and its direct effect in the human body, pharmaceutical advertising becomes the channel at which these crucial information is delivered to prescribers. Marketing provides physicians an informed choice of carefully characterized agents, specific to the needs of individual patients.
Pharmaceutical advertising allows research concepts to be transformed into usable tools. The data gathered in these researches are communicated and made readily available to the health care system via marketing.
Certainly, one objective of promotion is to increase sales. But the marketing communications activities of the industry are primarily informational and serve to educate the medical profession regarding how, when, and when not to use a medicine. These are among the most important activities of the pharmaceutical industry. At its core, this research-intensive, high technology industry is also an information service industry.
Marketing also plays an essential role in pharmaceutical innovation. Without a concrete channel where information about new drugs can be delivered, there will be no innovation in the health care delivery. Prescribers are unlikely to be aware of a new product unless companies make a systematic effort to communicate its availability.
In an advertising perspective, pharmaceutical advertising gives physicians other alternatives when prescribing. Advertising is a cost-effective mechanism for creating awareness about new products, approved new uses for existing products, new formulations, and new adverse effects.5 Although advertising medical products have rational limitations, as required by organizations such as the FDA, advertising does play a major role in supporting the flow of medical information in noncommercial channels.
The very nature of drugs is to alter the health of the consumers and thus the drug industry, including the pharmaceutical advertising industry, plays a prominent role in changing and sustaining the society. And with the presence of constant technological innovations, such as social media, pharmaceutical advertising will continue to play these important roles in the evolution and development of the health care continuum.