Does Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Antidepressants Lead to a Net Social Benefit?

Jon Jureidini, Barbara Mintzes, Melissa Raven
Research Summary: 

Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study was to refine the process for calculating total societal costs and benefits of direct-to-consumer advertising of antidepressants.

Research Approach/Method
The authors performed a societal cost-benefit analysis of antidepressant DTCA, including data from randomized controlled trials and observational studies.

Key Overarching Message
Results suggest that contrary to a previous estimate, the increase in use of antidepressants due to DTCA has a high net social cost and not a net social benefit.

Key Findings
For the US population in a given year, authors' estimates suggest approximately 300,000 additional patients will receive antidepressants as a result of DTCA. Of the DTCA-induced users, 0.1-1.6% will benefit. However, 0.7-4% will experience serious adverse events, and 8-66% will experience common side effects. The estimated social cost resulting from DTCA is $US90million, while the "most optimistic" estimate of the social benefit is $US12million (for a net social cost of $US78 million). This contrasts with Blockís (2007) estimated net social benefit of >$US100 million.