KEY TAKEAWAY: The distance between “awareness” of a health condition/new prescription drug and actually requesting an Rx for that product is increasing due to low trust in pharma, the ACA and insurers who are dictating which treatments are reimbursed.
Old DTC Model: Develop a compelling message for a target audience, use TV to create awareness as patient’s request an Rx from their HCP.
New Model: Patient becomes aware of a health condition/product, goes online to research the hell out of it, including listening to what other patients are saying, the patient talks to doctors about the product but only gets Rx if an insurer approves the product.
So where is pharma in this conversation? Not where they think they are or where they want to be. While patients have been relying more and more on Dr Internet pharma is still a passive player in the search for answers and support.
Of course, there are some products that warrant heavy DTC ads because there isn’t that much of a barrier between the product and the benefit (i.e. Cialis, Restasis) but too many other products have a maze of side effects and patients want to better understand the risk, of side effects, vs benefits.
Pharma websites are still problematic. Too many DTC marketers don’t understand the journey from awareness to treatment and they mistakenly correlate visitor traffic to business objectives. Some are exploring social media, but it’s hard to be a voice on social media when users don’t trust you and when you talk like a marketer instead of a person.
If DTC marketing doesn’t evolve, and evolve very soon, it’s going to become more irrelevant.