KEY IDEA: The objective of DTC marketing is, and will always be, to generate new Rx’s for the product. While the idea of bringing patients together in community and sharing information is a good one too many drug companies are not willing to take the risk(s).
For those of us who work within pharma the idea of recommending an online, or offline, initiative, to educate people is a far reach. Pharma websites are not considered a source of health information for the majority of online health seekers and frankly there are a lot of websites that do a better job.
When I worked at Lilly I was able to integrate a message board for a product launch but given the low trust in pharma and exposing the world to your health problems online I’m not sure it would be viable today.
A LinkedIn contact suggested throwing $30-$40 million into patient education, but my question would be why? WebMD, Quality Health, Healthline and other websites do a great job of educating patients and most patients, except newly diagnosed, understand their health issues. GSK, for example, launched a very good site on COPD (COPD.COM) that virtually has no traffic now.
In a corporate pharma environment the idea of of suggesting an education program that has no ROI could be career suicide . I have repeatedly suggested that pharma product websites need to include a content strategy, but TV gets the money and the glamor.
In order for pharma to be patient centered they have to stop cuddling with Wall Street and focus on patients as people. Sadly, that’s not about to happen.
Pharma is stuck on TV and will be for a long time. Too many agency people pushing TV success and too many interactive agencies fighting for money.
The objective of DTC is all about ROI. Pharma marketers can lie to themselves and say that the more patients they get on therapy, the better, but it’s really about their careers and standing within the organization.