BMS Enters Oncology DTC

screenshot_312KEY TAKEAWAY: BMS has started a DTC campaign for Opdivo via branded TV spots, but is TV the right channel for this audience?

I have to admit that was surprised to see a DTC spot for a lung cancer drug on TV last night.  Surely there is a better, more effective, way to reach patients and caregivers within this category.  In addition, I can’t see a patient asking their Oncologist about this drug since there is a whole host of cancer drugs available and each drug’s use depends on the patient, insurer and doctor.

I understand the power of empowered patients, but continued research shows that the gatekeeper of most therapies is still the doctor.  When it comes to treating cancer this is especially true.  Cancer, and therapies that treat cancer, are highly complex and can be costly.  Some patients may also choose to forgo a treatment if it’s side effects interfere with the quality of life.

Why BMS would choose to TV as a DTC channel is beyond me when there are so many targeting opportunities via digital.  I also do not believe that we are going to see many patients asking about/for Opdivo since the maze of treatment options is huge when it comes to caner drugs.


DTC marketers can ill afford to use outdated models to reach patients.  We have to use highly targeted methods at a time when you can laser target via digital.  Google, for example, is allowing advertisers to advertise to patients via their email preferences and usage.

The other issue that BMS seems to have forgotten is that a competitor can purchase your brand and use it for paid media as in the case below.