Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Health Information Science


Health Information Science


Dr. Sandra Regan

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Margaret Ann Wilkinson

Joint Supervisor


Background: Pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is a controversial form of advertising that markets prescription pharmaceuticals to patients and consumers. The positions, powers, interests and influence of pharmaceutical DTCA stakeholders shape Canadian DTCA policies; however, no focused analysis of pharmaceutical DTCA stakeholders has occurred.

Methods: This study involved a two-pronged stakeholder analysis: First was a broad analysis of pharmaceutical DTCA stakeholders using Canadian publicly available documents and websites. The second analyzed interveners on pharmaceutical litigation at the Supreme Court of Canada, and the comparisons to a leading tobacco advertising case, RJR-Macdonald v Canada (A.G) and a pharmaceutical DTCA case CanWest Media Works Inc. v Canada (A.G).

Results: There is a broad range of pharmaceutical DTCA stakeholders, with varying positions, power, interests and influence. Positions on pharmaceutical DTCA policy ranged from supporting less regulation to maintaining current regulations. Stakeholders are often networked with each other through participation in self-regulatory groups or membership in associations; pharmaceutical industry stakeholders were most highly networked. All interveners identified in the second analysis are stakeholders identified in the first analysis. Pharmaceutical litigation interveners were either brand or generic pharmaceutical industry stakeholders. Public policy stakeholders were notably absent in pharmaceutical case litigation despite their participation in RJR-Macdonald and CanWest.

Conclusion: Future pharmaceutical DTCA policy may be shaped by ‘high’ power stakeholders who favour maintaining the current regulations. Those same ‘high’ power stakeholders can be found participating in pharmaceutical litigation at the Supreme Court. Indications are that pharmaceutical industry stakeholders would be accepted to participate in Supreme Court pharmaceutical advertising litigation while public health stakeholders might apply as a coalition to participate.