By now I hope you had a chance to read my last post with the key findings from research with physicians on DTC advertising. While the CMI Compas Study had some good findings there is a still a lot we don’t know and more research is needed to help clarify the picture. Here are some of the key findings with my personal insights..
Key Finding: Nearly 53% of doctors believe Direct-to-Consumer pharmaceutical advertising should be scaled back
Insight: The reason(s) they feel that DTC ads need to be scaled back varies but it was interesting to also learn that almost half (48%) of physicians felt that DTC ads educates, informs and empowers patients. Physicians need to understand that in all likelihood patients who see a DTC ad are most likely going to go online or talk to relatives about the medication BEFORE asking their doctor for an Rx. The Rodale DTC study clearly showed this last year.
Key Finding: 78% feel that Direct-to-Consumer advertising leads to a preference for brand name drugs when a generic is adequate.
Insight: Patients may ask for a brand name drug but their insurer has a lot of say as to whether they get the branded drug or a generic. Often the higher co-pay will lead patients to choose the lower cost drug and some insurers will not even allow physicians to write brand name without prior authorization. Last year, more than 40 brand-name drugs — valued at $35 billion in annual sales — lost their patent protection, meaning that generic companies were permitted to make their own lower-priced versions of well-known drugs like Plavix, Lexapro and Seroquel — and share in the profits that had exclusively belonged to the brands. During the first nine months of 2012, sales of generic drugs increased by 19 percent over the same period in 2011, to $39.1 billion from $32.8 billion, according to Michael Faerm, an analyst for Credit Suisse. Sales of branded drugs, by contrast, fell 4 percent during the same period, to $174.2 billion from $181.3 billion.
Key Finding: 68% of physicians agree (18% strongly; 50% somewhat) that Direct-to-Consumer pharmaceutical advertising encourages patients to contact a clinician and 64% of physicians agree (13% strongly; 51% somewhat) that Direct-to-Consumer pharmaceutical advertising promotes patient dialogue with health care provider(s).
Insight: According to various media reports of last year and early this year less and less patients are going to see their doctor and more are putting off healthcare treatments due to cost. One would think that any advertising that drives patients into their physician, therefore would be welcome. Additionally, since the average time with a patient is around 12 minutes if DTC ads educate and inform patients the better the dialogue?
Key Finding: 63% of physicians agree (15% strongly; 48% somewhat) that Direct-to-Consumer pharmaceutical advertising misinforms patients and ￼74% of physicians agree (28% strongly; 46% somewhat) that Direct-to-Consumer pharmaceutical advertising overemphasizes drug benefits.
Insight: Just look at the current ads for testosterone and you can see an example of how drug ads overemphasize drug benefits. Low T has been positioned as “fountain of youth” for some men and since lack of energy is the number one complaint of an aging population, it’s easy to see how men could believe that a testosterone treatment may renew vigor and vitality when some medical studies said it would not be beneficial to some men. Then there are ads for products like Enbrel, which really do not indicate what percentage of patients improve with treatment and list Rx risks that include death and cancer. This is where marketers need to be more transparent and stop selling.
The information in this study us eye opening and if the FDA gets the same results I believe the changes will be in store for DTC advertising. However, we have to ask a lot more questions and come to an understanding of how patients choose medications by medical condition as each condition is essentially a micro market.