In most Western countries, where direct advertising of prescription drugs (DTCA) is banned, the pharma industry relies primarily on PR activities to promote its products. Despite the pharma industry's ever-increasing share in framing media coverage of health issues, the strategies used in its press materials have not yet been systematically examined. This study uses framing theory to explore the PR strategies and tactics employed by pharmaceutical companies to promote their products in Israel, where DTCA is banned. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative content analysis, we examined 1548 pharmaceutical press releases. The Israeli example can serve as a case study for understanding how the pharma industry operates in many countries around the world where DTCA is banned. Our findings show that strategies and tactics dubbed as “disease mongering” dominate the pharma industry's press releases. The four main strategies identified in this study are third party technique, disease branding, drug branding and Astroturfing. Some of the common PR strategies and tactics we found are not only unethical, but also opposed to the regulatory bodies in Israel, and would never receive approval, even in countries where DTCA is allowed.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.
- Direct-to-consumer advertising
- Disease mongering
- Framing theory
- PR strategies
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management