U.S. leads in use of Internet for health info

September 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

Though the United States is comparatively open to using the Internet for various health-related purposes, it is less receptive to Web sites developed outside the country.

Though the United States is comparatively open to using the Internet for various health-related purposes, it is less receptive to Web sites developed outside the country, according to a recent survey by Rochester, NY-based Harris Interactive.

This online study was conducted in January 2002 with 309 people who used the Internet for health or healthcare in the United States, 327 in France, 407 in Germany and 275 in Japan.

Pharma should reach out

The majority of people who use the Internet for health reasons in all four countries support the idea of pharmaceutical companies communicating directly with consumers online, with the strongest support in the United States (87% in favor), and the weakest in Japan (59% in favor).

American and Japanese respondents would be the most likely to use the Internet to buy pharmaceuticals online, if it were possible. Fifty-one percent of Americans and 69% of Japanese respondents who use the Internet for health reasons said they would be at least somewhat likely to do so, compared with 33% in Germany and 32% in France. According to Harris, these differences may reflect higher drug prices in the United States, as well as the fact that many drug purchases in Japan include a fee for the physician.

Importance of origin

Americans and the Japanese are the most likely to be concerned about using sites not based in their own country, while Germans are the least concerned of the four countries.

However, substantial majorities in all four countries are not concerned, or consider national origin to be only "somewhat important." Also, many people admit that they can distinguish Web sites' country of origin.

Government regulation?

The majority of users in Japan (72%), France (61%) and the United States (52%) believes their government should regulate online health-related information at least "somewhat," but only a small minority, from 4% in Germany to 22% in France, favors "a great deal" of regulation. PR

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