KEY TAKEAWAY: Older DTC studies, before 2014, may not be relevant anymore as too much has changed. Patients today are no; longer passive consumers and they are willing to do the legwork to determine the best treatment for them.
Last night I participated in a webinar on DTC marketing and ethics as hosted by Columbia University. It was a good hour with a perspective from many different sides. However, one of the presenters used DTC data from 2010 on patients requesting an advertised treatment for a depression drug. At the time the data may have been relevant, but not anymore.
So let’s look at some questions concerning DTC..
1ne: Do DTC ads drive patients to ask for an advertised prescription drugs? No, and yes. Continued research that TV ads are less effective, but they do raise awareness of new treatments and health problems. However, there are wide variations by disease state as each one has its own market dynamics.
2wo: Why have DTC ads become less effective? Largely because of the insurance industry, which has raised premiums and co-pays for patients. In addition, some drugs cost patients most money at a time when generics make up over 85% of Rx’s.
3hree: What are consumers are doing to manage their health? They are going online to talk to others and research treatment options. When they finally do go in to see their doctor they are usually better educated to ask questions about treatment options.
4our: Where is the disconnect between DTC and patients asking for an Rx? Pharma marketing pretty much has not changed that much since DTC was approved in the late 90’s. Sure, some are experimenting with social media and apps, but companies aren’t fully engaging patients along the healthcare journey from awareness to getting an Rx.
5ive: Should DTC marketing be banned? No. Consumers are smart enough to research treatments before asking about them and DTC ads do raise awareness about the possible dangers of certain health conditions.
Finally the one area that still has patients confused and angry is the care they receive. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Doctors today are trained to treat conditions not patients [/inlinetweet]at a time when patients want to have a closer relationship with their HCP. In addition the pharma industry, the AMA and insurers all need to work together to educate consumers about preventable health issues like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.