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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16900

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

World of DTC Marketing
Drug companies don’t have the luxury of waiting for the FDA to issue guidelines on marketing
Pharma Marketer 2009 Dec 7

Full text:

As Manhattan Research reported recently more and more people are going online for health information. They’re using all of the Internet including search and social media but we find that most drug companies are waiting to see if the FDA issues new guidelines. Marketing is more important especially in an era when so many people are looking for health information and to play it cautious means that you are going to miss some big opportunities which you can ill afford to miss today.
The FDA is a political agency, make no mistake about that. They are also way behind the times as they regard drug websites as labeling. Health marketing, mostly because of the media, has changed dramatically over the last 2-3 years, even before the social media craze. More and more people have been going online for medical information because they don’t trust the FDA & drug industry and because they don’t get to spend time with their HCP’s talking about drugs and preventative health.
Physicians in turn have been trained to treat health conditions. It’s easier to prescribe Lipitor to someone who has high cholesterol than it is to get them to change their diet and exercise. Consumers want to take pills because it’s easier to do that than it is to eat well and exercise.
So rather than sell branded medications one has to ask “what are we really selling” and “where can we impact the patient most during their healthcare research?” For example, with Viagra you’re not selling sex, you’re selling the confidence to continue to have an intimate relationship with your partner. When I was on the Cialis team I did a promotional tie-in with called 36 romantic hours in a city of your choice. Consumers went to a special website that has the Cialis message but the real value was the ability to customize a 36 hour getaway during Valentine’s Day. They selected where they lived and suggestions would come up along with links to make reservations at local resorts/hotels. It was very successful in both key message recall (36 hours) and use (50% over target). This is the kind of marketing that is missing from today’s DTC marketing.
With this recession emotion is a powerful driver especially if it plays to the sense of family or relationships. This means indirect selling via emotion and it also means going to where people are online and not interrupting them but , rather, fostering the conversation with transparency.
DTC marketers need to forget the heavy use of TV. Awareness today, especially with drugs, does not translate into new sales. They need to think about how patients/consumers think about their health conditions and identify the real problem that their brands can solve.
Those companies that are playing it conservative are losing sales while their legal and regulatory people restrict marketing tactics because they don’t understand marketing or empowered patients. Most companies have some sort of process to identify and rank risks, often as part of an enterprise risk-management program. While such processes can be helpful, experience suggests that they often examine only the most direct risks facing a company and typically neglect indirect ones that can have an equal or even greater impact. Clearly, companies must look beyond immediate, obvious risks and learn to evaluate aftereffects that could destabilize whole value chains, including all direct and indirect business relationships with customers and patients.
Big pharma needs to be more aggressive when it comes to marketing today. They don’t have the luxury of waiting for the FDA because consumers are moving on and the it’s the drug industry that has to play catch up.


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