DTC: The environment has changed

Reportage à Kitikata, où l'eau monte de plus en plus.

QUICK READ: Healthcare costs are a key part of the upcoming election but misinformation spreads quickly as we are learning with the Coronavirus. Yes, some drug prices are high but drug prices are only $.10 of every healthcare dollar spent. DTC marketers can’t continue as before; changes need to be made.

“They have big pharma in their pocket,” said someone on Twitter complaining about the candidates in the upcoming election. As I dug into the thread I found a lot of misinformation about healthcare. This election is having a direct effect on messages, DTC, from pharma companies.

People who are suddenly thrust into the role of online health seeker are bombarded with irrelevant health information that they have to sort through themselves. A great example is the use of masks to somehow limit the Coronavirus even though the Surgeon General says they don’t work.

Trade magazines hold conferences every year on DTC and digital yet little has changed. There is a failure to understand that people mistrust pharma companies even though they understand they need prescription drugs to stay healthy.

The Biggest Threat to Healthcare

According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity, and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States… An estimated 300,000 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic. That’s 25,000 per month!

Obesity has become such a huge health problem that some are calling on fat-shaming to try and get it under control. We are a population that likes to eat unhealthily and skip exercise and blame everyone else for our high healthcare costs.

So, based upon the above why are we continuing to blame pharma for our healthcare ills? The answer lies in the headlines and consumer sentiment. People are angry at everything and it’s easier to blame someone than talk about real solutions to real problems.

Right now the only trade publication that seems to tell us the truth is STAT. Their stories are balanced and tell it like it is. Other trade magazines still kiss the asses of pharma people and hold conferences in which they make a lot of money.

A new approach to DTC is very much needed. One that takes into account the fact that people blame pharma for our healthcare problems and have a high level of mistrust of advertising.

Bright DTC marketers will understand that the environment in which we market has changed dramatically. Others will continue to develop PowerPoints with fancy charts that show DTC ads work to keep their budgets.

There is no one right solution to address the huge changes taking place. A good start would be to ask people “what do we need to do to regain your trust?”. The media is going to continue to attack pharma for high drug prices even though insurers and PBM’s are carrying boatloads of cash to the bank. No, it’s not fair but it’s real.