Question on Hepatitis B Medication Advertisement

Hi everyone,
I hope you are all doing well. I was thinking the other day and this question came into my mind. I have pondered over it for the last couple of days, but I can’t think of any answers. I don’t know about other countries, while we constantly see advertisement of medications for a host of conditions here in the US on our TV’s; we never see any for hepatitis B. Even though there are some medications available, why is this the case?

I do believe advertising them on TV could be a great tool to raise awareness and maybe motivate patients to seek medical care/treatment where possible or needed. What do you all think?

Thanks, Bright.

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Hi Bright you’re asking a good question! Why doesn’t hep b get more attention? I think that the pharma companies don’t see a huge market in the U.S. for hep b drugs. There are an estimated 2 million Americans living with chronic hep b, but most aren’t even diagnosed, let alone treated. So frankly, there’s not a great return on investment for the drug companies. But I completely agree with you. If there was more advertising then the public awareness would increase and so would (hopefully) the testing and treatment rates. Unfortunately, in the U.S. advertising is based on how much money any company can make, not just drug companies. Look forward to hearing other people’s thoughts?!! Always, Joan

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Hi Joan,
Thanks for your take on this. You make an important point which is profit/money. It is unfortunate that this has been the main underline focus of many companies/corporations, more so in the US. I hope this changes though; because I see a huge public awareness opportunity here that is unused. Great feedback.
Thank you as always,
Bright.

Here in Australia, we basically do not have any advertisements on TV about medications unless it is over-the-counter stuff like paracetamol or allergy medications. There are public health announcements and messages (e.g. don’t come to the emergency ward for a cold, or get your COVID19/flu vaccination) that are paid for by the federal health department.

I agree that this would be great for raising awareness about the importance of getting tested. I guess the only problem is money: not only for the advertising slot, but also the design of the message, filming, work to get the appropriate approvals, etc. etc.

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Pharmaceutical advertisements are indeed very prevalent in US TV. Here in Canada we do not see a lot of this either.

When considering this phenomena, we also have to ask, who is most often watching TV in the US? This is certainly groups in whom HBV infection is quite rare . Now on the other hand, psoriasis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis are quite prevalent in these groups so TV is saturated with advertisements for medications for these diseases.

What really has to happen is for universal HBV testing to be adopted (especially in high risk groups) so that those who don’t know they have chronic HBV infection can find out before they start developing liver disease. Certainly Joan knows all about the challenges in getting this implemented!

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Hi Thomas,
Wow, It is interesting to learn that in Australia there is nothing like that. Here in the US we have advertisements on medications for COPD, asthma, Rheumatoid arthritis, HIV (PREP), cancer (breast & lung) , hep C, cholesterol, etc. I think these adverts are paid for by big pharma. They will say the name at the end of the company and then ask patients to ask their doctors if the medicine is right for them. I think it is a strategy to get patients interested so they can ask their doctors and hopefully prescribe them. It will be interesting to know how effective a tool this will be if tried.

Thanks, Bright.

Hi Availlant,
It is interesting that in Canada these adverts are not a lot. It is certainly true these ads are targeted to specific groups or populations. I do think that Joan made an equally important point about "profits or money "(in the US). At the end of the day what is the point if big pharma spends all this money on ads and does not make high sales to increase its bottom line? Your point regarding universal testing is important. Hopefully it will be adopted all around the globe. Great point or take on this.

I think this could be a great tool and an opportunity to reach a broader audience about hepatitis B.
Thank you,
Bright

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Hi Andrew,

Agree with universal testing. We currently have risk-based screening here in Australia and there’s evidence that it puts a big burden on primary care physicians on knowing exactly what the risks are (which countries are high-risk, what other conditions, etc. etc.), which is why universal screening (i.e. EVERYONE) is so necessary to meet the WHO targets for HBV diagnosis.

I agree that TV probably isn’t the most efficient way to directly reach the populations needed, but a possible follow-on effect of an advertising strategy to more people would be the “pester power” of people coming in asking for a test, which might lead to more HBV testing in general. This would need a change in testing paradigm though.

@jennifer.maclachlan could probably comment on this a bit more given the great perspective article she has recently published - Time for universal hepatitis B screening for Australian adults | The Medical Journal of Australia

TT

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Great :ok_hand::ok_hand: I thought and Worth the effort to invest in it to see it come to manifest ,but unlike my country Kenya lack of Good will from our so called leaders will kill the good idea.

Thanks Thomas - I think this is a really important discussion. I agree completely about the change in testing paradigm, and that it needs to occur broadly. A move to a more universal approach hopefully means there would be more acceptance of people requesting a test, and also that the process of providing it is easier for the health provider. We also need to work on health worker training to make sure that the next steps after a diagnosis are appropriate, as we know this is often an issue. Hopefully a shift toward a more universal approach will help with this, as well as promoting hep B testing generally.
Cheers,

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