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A familiar refrain echoes through drug ads in the United States. It’s heard at the end of TV spots and plastered across magazine pages: Ask your doctor if this drug is right for you. But as medicine moves increasingly online, direct-to-consumer advertising is adopting a more assertive catchphrase: Talk to a doctor now.

Dozens of drug sites now have built-in buttons to “talk to a doctor now” about everything from novel migraine medications to a treatment for sickle cell disease. “You deserve to feel better,” reads one appeal about irritable bowel syndrome. Sponsored by AbbVie and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of IBS-C drug Linzess, the site invokes users to click to speak with a doctor in minutes, leading them to a third-party telehealth platform to “see if Linzess is right for you.”


For pharma companies, online prescribing has now become a powerful tool to drive sales, sending hundreds of thousands of patients to the clinic at the moment they’re most primed to ask for a specific prescription. The company that runs the Linzess platform, Populus Media, says that across its telehealth prescribing programs, more than 90% of eligible patients who finish intake forms get a script for the drug they clicked on.

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