Research findings on DTC TV advertising

IN SUMMARY: Most patient’s are not paying attention to DTC TV ads and when they do they are going online to learn more but pharma is being left out of the “conversation” because they don’t provide the information that people want to ask their doctor for an Rx.

Last week our team led some qualitative market research on DTC TV ads for a health magazine. The objective was to learn how DTC TV ads drive prescribing behavior and how many people actually ask their doctor for a branded Rx based on TV ads alone. There were a total of 14 different sessions in Atlanta, Houston, Denver, and Washington DC with 112 people. Here are the top line results:

1ne: DTC TV ads are largely ignored by people even people within the target audience because they are repetitive.

2wo: If someone was interested in an advertised product, their first action was “to go online and learn more, but they trust other social media more than pharma.”

3hree: The process of switching from their current medication to a new one is seen as “not worth the effort” unless there are superior benefits.

4our: The biggest complaint was that too many DTC ads are too repetitive.

5ive: Pharma websites are too hard to understand and do not provide a full understanding of both managing health conditions and providing “reasons to believe”.

6ix: Even with co-pay coupons, patients were reluctant to switch or ask for a medication because “someone is paying for it.”

7even: The media attention around the high cost of prescription drugs is not affecting a lot of people as they have health insurance. However, they are all paying more for health insurance and worry about paying for a serious health event.

8ight: When asked, “what can a pharma company do to get you to ask for a branded medication?” the majority said “tell me my co-pay” and “connect me with other patients like me”.

9ine: TV is still the best way to generate awareness of new medications but that leads to patients spending more time online researching products.

10en: Finally we asked about drug prices in DTC ads. Everyone was in synch that including the list price would probably stop them from asking for an Rx if the list price was high. They thought that a high list price would mean higher co-pays.

I didn’t hear anyone call for a halt to DTC ads although some people in the groups thought that pharma companies “make too much money.” Several people in the groups who had experienced serious health issues were trying to warn others about the “hidden costs” of some treatments. As one person said “you think it’s never going to happen to you but when it does you’re suddenly alone”.