Health Lifting medicine ad ban could mean health-care system savings

Lifting medicine ad ban could mean health-care system savings

Ending a bar on advertising some ‘pharmacy-only’ medicines could encourage consumers with minor ailments to seek advice from pharmacists rather than GPs.

Ending a bar on advertising some ‘over-the-counter’ medicines could encourage consumers with minor ailments to seek advice from pharmacists rather than GPs, a new study has found.

Researchers from the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at UTS studied the potential effects of advertising ‘pharmacist only’, Schedule 3 (S3) medicines.

Their ‘test and control’ study used a mock advertisement for a cold sore treatment.

“Unfortunately, there is limited consumer awareness of S3 medicines, so many people don’t think to go to a pharmacist for a minor ailment that could be treated fairly easily, without the need for a GP visit,” said CHERE Director, Professor Rosalie Viney.

“Our research showed that the proposed advertising significantly increased the likelihood of consumers engaging in conversations with pharmacists about their health conditions and treatment options.”

The study also found that pharmacists’ recommendations were unlikely to be influenced by the marketing.

“Even in the presence of advertising, pharmacists remained comfortable referring customers to their GP if necessary and would deny a customer’s request for a specific medicine if they considered it inappropriate,” said researcher Professor Stephen Goodall.

The alternative advertising model will be submitted to an upcoming government review of medicines scheduling.

If accepted, it has the potential to free up GPs’ time for treatment of more serious conditions while reducing the costs to the health care system.

For more details of the study, click here. Story credit: UTS newsroom.

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