FDA approval no longer means sales

I was talking to our research Director about some recent research findings and surprisingly one of the top line findings is that both consumers and physicians are not in any hurry to try new drugs just because they were newly approved by the FDA.  Why ?  Trust.

There are some classes of newly approved drugs that consumers will try if they get the chance but for other new drugs both physicians and patients are saying “i want to wait until more studies are done and I know more”.

As one physician told us “how can I recommend Pradaxa to a patient when the legal profession is running ads recruiting patients for using Pradaxa ?”   A number of people said “if my current medication is working why would I want to switch to a new one that might not work or have more side effects?”  When this woman said that a number of other people shook their heads as if to say “yes”.

So are the implications for DTC marketers ?

1. The benefits of your product have to clearly outweigh the benefits of competitors especially well entrenched competitors like generics.  However the benefits have to be important to patients as they see the product benefits.

2. Benefits have to be communicated in quality of life terms not just stats.  One person told us that his dad is using a Warfarin but will not switch to Pradaxa because he is physically active and is afraid that if he falls he could have bleeding problems.

3. Emphasize ongoing clinical trial results and help patients understand the risks. To many people label language is confusing and turns them away.  Talk to them like people not market segments.

4. Use different messages for different keywords via paid search.  You should NOT have just one homepage but homepages tied into your keywords that are relevant to your audience.

5. Physicians want to know “why” and they also want to know what their patients reaction is going to be if they try and switch them to a new medication.  Help them by giving them insights into patients attitudes towards the disease state and current medications.

FDA approval is just one hurdle to get over now you have to convince patients and physicians that your drugs is indeed the answer to better health outcomes and quality of life.

2 thoughts on “FDA approval no longer means sales

  1. Kim Slocum

    You’re missing perhaps the most important point of all–coverage. Third party payment is the “mother’s milk” of prescription drug sales. Health plans, facing increasing pressure from their customers (employers and governmental agencies) have been taking a steadily harder line on market access questions. That’s particularly true for specialty products carrying astronomical price tags and somewhat limited incremental clinical benefits.

  2. Wille Wonka

    “Benefits have to be communicated in quality of life terms not just stats”
    From what I’ve heard and what I have experienced, except for Florida, quality of life is not a physician consideration for folks over 50. We can have side effects such as crippling muscle pain (statins) and mind numbing until almost unconsciousness (blood pressure) and all the physician says is “you’ll get over it with time” or “sit in the waiting room until it wears off”. These are actual experiences. Not what I was looking forward to in retirement.

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