March 8, 2005, 12:00 AM

Consumer-health sites could lead to unhealthy drug web sites, Jupiter says

20% of online consumers look to other consumers for health advice online, potentially weakening pharmaceutical marketing, Jupiter Research reports.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Online health support groups and consumer-created health content can undermine online marketing and advertising from drug manufacturers, according to a report from Jupiter Research.

20% of online consumers look to other consumers for health advice online, potentially weakening pharmaceutical marketing, Jupiter found. Online consumers who believe they are at risk of developing a health problem and those who suffer from chronic conditions-groups that are more likely to purchase prescription and over-the-counter drugs-are significantly more likely to use online support, compared with the average consumer, the survey found.

Consumers’ level of exposure to online health groups is important because the majority of users seek practical information that could sway their drug choice. Jupiter suggests that marketers leverage the tools most often used by online health groups-e-mail and drug-branded web sites-to protect their brands.

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