Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs
The American and New Zealand Experiences
About This Event

Drug manufacturers spend more than two billion dollars a year on direct-to-consumer (DTC) television ads, which the Food and Drug Administration has permitted since 1997. Surveys show virtually all consumers are familiar with these ads.

DTC advertising is permitted in only two economically advanced nations: the United States and New Zealand. In the U.S. DTC has attracted intense public attention and debate. Critics claim it misleads consumers and raises costs, while patients find it a useful source of information about new drugs. Some groups have even asked for a complete ban on DTC advertising. In the meantime, New Zealand’s unique self-regulation system has remained virtually unknown outside of that country.

At this event three experts will discuss the results of new research on DTC advertising in both nations, and the head of New Zealand’s self-regulation system will describe how DTC advertising is regulated. The conference will be moderated by AEI resident scholar John E. Calfee, who has published widely on DTC advertising.


1:15 p.m.



New Survey Research on DTC Advertising in the U.S.


Ed Slaughter, Prevention magazine

Robert Leitman, Harris Interactive


John E. Calfee, AEI


The New Zealand Experience with DTC


Janet Hoek, Massey University

Glen Wiggs, New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority


John E. Calfee, AEI



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AEI Participants


John E.
  • Economist John E. Calfee (1941-2011) studied the pharmaceutical industry and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the economics of tobacco, tort liability, and patents. He previously worked at the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Economics. He had also taught marketing and consumer behavior at the business schools of the University of Maryland at College Park and Boston University. While Mr. Calfee's writings are mostly on pharmaceutical markets and FDA regulation, his academic articles and opinion pieces covered a variety of topics, from patent law and tort liability to advertising and consumer information. His books include Prices, Markets, and the Pharmaceutical Revolution (AEI Press, 2000) and Biotechnology and the Patent System (AEI Press, 2007). Mr. Calfee wrote regularly for AEI's Health Policy Outlook series. He testified before Congress and federal agencies on various topics, including alcohol advertising; biodefense vaccine research; international drug prices; and FDA oversight of drug safety.

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