None of this is news to pharmaceutical folks, of course. It's an ongoing agony for many in the business: Everyone knows that drug advertising works for many brands by driving patients to ask for prescriptions at the doctor's office. But everyone also knows that every ad that appears irritates consumers who believe that the commercials increase the price of drugs or promote inappropriate treatments.
The entire argument was captured eloquently by this commenter under the NYT item:
I have two objections to the advertising of prescription drugs: First, they are very good at what they do - convincing people to cajole their doctors into prescribing the drugs, and second, the ads are extraordinarily expensive - a 30-second ad in primetime can cost $300,000 and more - and guess who pays? We do.