Cybercitizen Health® Insights

Data from DRG Digital | Manhattan Research’s Cybercitizen Health® U.S. 2018 study of 3,084 U.S. patients show that:

  • Among the 61% of patients who had researched prescription drugs online in the past 12 months, 34% had requested a specific prescription drug at least once.
  • Among patients who had requested an Rx, 25% were prompted to do so by a TV ad and 25% by ads seen online.
  • Among the 65% of patients who recalled seeing or hearing TV ads about prescription drugs in the past 12 months, 22% had requested a specific drug.
  • Among the 49% of patients who recalled seeing or hearing online ads, 42% had requested a specific Rx drug.
  • TV or online ads may be particularly effective at reaching some condition groups. Among online Rx researchers requesting a prescription, patients with multiple sclerosis, hypertension and Alzheimer’s Disease were particularly likely to cite TV ads as the impetus for their request, while patients with hepatitis C, type 1 diabetes and severe asthma were more likely to cite online ads.

1ne: Among the 61% of patients who had researched prescription drugs online in the past 12 months, 34% had requested a specific prescription drug at least once.

Insight: Online health seekers, of course, are more likely to ask about a specific prescription drug. The key is to understand the message that actually gets them into the doctor to ask for YOUR drug.  

2wo: Among patients who had requested an Rx, 25% were prompted to do so by a TV ad and 25% by ads seen online.

Insight: This number is higher than I have seen in the past, but it’s also discouraging in some ways as the cost of TV can quickly empty DTC budget buckets.  DTC marketers seem to think by increasing frequency they can get new Rc’s but this isn’t true.  It’s very important to measure the awareness of your message/brand within your target audience before committing to more TV ads.

3hree: Among the 49% of patients who recalled seeing or hearing online ads, 42% had requested a specific Rx drug.

Insight: On the surface, it would seem like this finding supports more online ads, but this data needs more context.  Given the amount of online ad fraud and lack of people to adequately measure online ad spend I would question this data without more insights.  It could be, for example, that people who requested a specific drug remember online ads whereas those who did not don’t remember these ads.

4our: Many patients seek out additional information online after learning about a product through advertising. Intriguingly, the data indicate that while patients are more likely to visit general health websites like WebMD or Everyday Health, those visiting pharma websites are more likely to request a specific drug.

Insight: Nothing new here.  This is consistent with research that I have been part of for quite some time.  Pharma marketers need to be aware what these “general health” sites are saying about the health condition and the product in which they market.   “Those visiting pharma websites are more likely to ask for a specific drug”; well those visiting ANY product website, from cars to electronics, are more likely to ask for THAT product.  However, the correlation of overall visitors (vs. bounce rates, page views) remain low, indicating to me that more work needs to be done.

5ive: Patients visiting pharma websites early in the treatment journey are more likely to request a specific medication.

Insight: This really depends on the health condition and the number of competitors within a specific area.   I have seen, for example, that coupons, social media comments and time on market are all factors in determining to ask for a medication.

Cybercitizen Health® continues to be a valuable tool in forming DTC strategy, but it’s only 1 tool.  You need a variety of tools to ensure your strategy drives brand objectives and optimizes your media channels.  Your interactive agency should be providing you, as part of your online strategy, a competitive online landscape.

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