IN SUMMARY: While the media has been doing their best to point the finger at pharma companies for high drug prices patients seem to have other ideas according to research. They understand that the drugs they are taking help them lead better, more productive lives and while the prices on some drugs are high they see it as a warning for could happen if changes aren’t made.
Yesterday, in Cincinnati we started the first of research project for a client who is getting ready to launch their first drug. The objective was to try and determine if corporate branding should be part of their marketing budget and to what extent. At my recommendation, we decided to conduct some qualitative research to find out where patients really stand with regards to pharma and biotech companies. Here are some top-line results:
1ne: In the era of “fake news” most said that they believed the stories about people who can’t afford prescription drugs are more media sensationalism than reality.
2wo: The vast majority of people in our panels (n=46) were taking at least one prescription drug but less than 10% were taking a branded drug.
3hree: Rising drug prices are a concern but the people in our panels thought that it would not affect them unless they were diagnosed with a more serious health problem. They were more concerned about going to a hospital and being hit with surprise medical bills.
4our: We had some diabetics in the panels and although the cost of insulin has increased they are not really feeling the pinch. They attribute this to their health insurance.
5ive: By far the biggest concern was the rising cost of their health insurance. Almost everyone said they had seen substantial increases in company-sponsored health insurance with higher deductibles. They also noted that the “media is not really talking about this issue enough”.
6ix: We did hear some anecdotal stories about people contacting drug companies for help in paying for their Rx. They said the experience left them drained and not one person said they were helpful.
7even: The trust in drug companies is not as low as some would have us believe. Patients still trust the drug industry to help them overcome health problems.
8ight: Pharma websites are seen as providing information on specific drugs but not as resources in specific diseases.
9ine: Overall the people in our panels feel that the healthcare experience needs an overhaul. They want more personal communication with their doctor and don’t like it when their doctor talks down to them. This was a recurrent theme in the sessions.
10en: People are optimistic that the drug companies will unlock the key for treating and living with cancer but they fear that the cost of such treatments could lead to financial hardships. It goes beyond the cost of the drug to the total cost of treatments.
To be honest I expected to hear people call the pharma industry every name in the book but if one good thing is coming from the “fake news era” it’s that people don’t always trust what they read, even if it’s from mainstream news organizations. We heard a short discussion on how the media likes to sensationalize everything. We even heard that some people avoid the news because “it’s just nothing but more bad news everyday”.