April 10, 2014 11:08 am
POST SUMMARY: Physicians are not using the mobile web they are using apps as a tool like a stethoscope. The number one reason that they are using apps is to… more>>
Women with children in the household are the primary users of online health information—they are the “chief medical officers” of their families. Roughly three-quarters of US women use the internet for health information, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and many of them do so nearly daily. Yet when it comes to unifying the customer experience cross-channel less than one quarter of companies report they “always succeed,” while more than 60 percent “often or sometimes fail” according to a Forrester study .
According to Business Intelligence “The TV business has had its worst year ever. Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.” While the national network news seems to be sponsored by pharma companies consumers are consuming media elsewhere and time shifting their favorite shows because repetitive tv commercials are downright annoying.
If the FDA wants to make DTC TV ads relevant to consumers they need to revisit the guidelines they established years ago. For example, the requirement to add a “see our ad in…” is completely worthless. Does the FDA really believe that consumers are going to remember that ? Then there is the fair balance which is a bit of an oxymoron. What the FDA really needs to do is look at how people are reacting to these ads and better understand the steps they go through as they decide on which drugs they are going to ask about.
According to today’s Times “The market for testosterone gels evolved because there is an appetite among men and because there is advertising,” said Dr. Joel Finkelstein, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who is studying male hormone changes with aging. “The problem is that no one has proved that it works and we don’t know the risks.” Many experts say that pharmaceutical advertising promotes excessive and inappropriate drug use by convincing patients that they are ill — or have a more serious condition than is genuinely the case — and need medicine to treat it. While television viewers are barraged with advertising warning men they may have “low T,” Dr. Finkelstein said, “There is no such disease.”
I never thought I would say this but pharma maybe putting too much emphasis on digital. Before you drop your coffee let me explain… The report from Compas released yesterday clearly showed the best way to reach physicians is with an integrated channel approach using digital and off-line channels. But what about patients and consumers? My thoughts are that the same thinking is needed along with an in depth understanding of each disease state psychographics.
The current model of DTC marketing is unsustainable. If DTC marketers continue to use the current outdated model and spend most of their budgets on TV/Print they are going to be spending more time trying to justify marketing dollars while business objectives may or may not be met. Some brands understand this such as the folks at Biogen but there are still a lot of repetitive drug ads in prime time that are a complete waste of money. However with budget dollars hard to come by some DTC marketers are being forced to look at ways to maximize their budget dollars in other channels primarily digital.
This week the FDA announced their plan to conduct a new survey focusing on physicians and other healthcare professionals to understand the effect that direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising has on their prescribers’ behaviors; as well as gain their perspective on whether or not DTC drug marketing results in inappropriate requests for prescriptions or an overestimation by patients of their efficacy. As this announcement generated much curiosity with our media teams and our many clients, CMI/Compas decided to field their own ByDoctor Pulse study focusing on physicians perceptions of DTC – surveying both primary care and specialty physicians. Perhaps the responses here can serve as leading indicators for what’s to come…
There are so many challenges facing DTC marketers right now including shrinking budgets and diversification of media that you have to wonder if there is enough talent to really break DTC marketing out of this funk. The priorities for pharma companies are to both reduce costs and to increase the effectiveness of all marketing programs. However is pharma it’s own worst enemy when it comes to embracing empowered health consumers and will antiquated processes and thinking limit DTC marketing ?
There are a lot of advertisements on TV for testosterone treatments and for an aging population they seem to promise vitality. However clinical research indicated that older men who use testosterone gel may see small improvements in their muscle-to-fat ratio but are unlikely to glean any benefits in flexibility, endurance and general ability to get around, new research suggests. Are the DTC ads a marketers view of testosterone treatments or do they really convey the facts about these treatments ?
Are drug TV ads dead ? It seems to me that there are less DTC TV ads in primetime and while there are some big name drugs that have come off patent there are other issues with prescription drug TV ads. There is this nagging problem with the disclosure of side effects as was pointed out by Elisabeth Rosenthal in her New York Times article entitled “I Disclose… Nothing” (January 22, 2012). “When the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s first mandated that drug makers list medicines’ side effects in order to advertise prescription drugs, there was a firestorm of protest from the industry. Now the litany of side effects that follows every promotion is so mind-numbing — drowsiness, insomnia, loss of appetite, weight gain — as to make the message meaningless.” Not to mention that more and more people are turning to their smartphones and iPads during commercials.
From PLOS One a peer reviewed Journal comes proof that promotional pharma spending is declining “Findings suggest that pharmaceutical companies have reduced promotion following changes in the pharmaceutical pipeline and patent expiry for several blockbuster drugs. Promotional strategies for biologic drugs differ substantially from small molecule therapies.” Of course a lot of us know this firsthand. I have seen budgets get cut at the beginning and midpoint of the year as pharma struggles with the changing healthcare business environment.