Trust in FDA having an effect on DTC

WHAT THE? According to a Harris Poll, only 73% of Americans said they saw the CDC as somewhat or very trustworthy and 72% said they saw the FDA as highly trusted. The politicization of the FDA is also having an effect on prescription drugs. DTC now, more than ever, needs to be more transparent but will DTC marketers listen to patients?

In the first week of July, we started online research with the objective to gauge if there is a shifting attitude towards DTC ads because of the issues with the FDA and CDC. The answer is damn right!

From our ongoing tracking poll, we saw at least a fifteen point drop-in “trust of prescription drug ads”. This was especially true for drugs that had just been approved with new DTC.

The quantitative was followed up with some qualitative of selected participants. We probed with questions intended to better understand the concern over the FDA. In short, consumers are VERY aware that the FDA and CDC have become political ping pong balls and that the FDA is bowing to the pressure of politicians.

While one might think that this issue is only associated with a new COVID-19 vaccine we heard otherwise. The issue also has encompassed drugs that have just been approved by the FDA, especially “me-too” products. The issues seem to be centered around two areas; advertised effectiveness and side effects. Here are some verbatim quotes”

“How do I know new drugs do what drug companies say they do? Sure I might lose weight but what price am I going to have to pay in side effects?”

“I’m not taking any new drug without speaking to my doctor about it first. If she says it’s better than the drug I’m taking I’ll listen but I want to know a lot more about it”.

Pharma has been late to the party when it comes to the FDA and drug approvals. If ANYONE feels it’s not going to translate into mistrust of DTC they’re kidding themselves.

What Can DTC DO?

1ne: Transparency- More transparency. You need to talk about clinical trials in terms that consumers can understand such as how many people were involved.

2wo: Have a page on your website dedicated to ongoing clinical trials.

3hree: Dedicate content to the drug approval process so patients can better understand how long this drug has been in development.

4our: Don’t be afraid to say “tested in patient populations of over X number of people.

5ive: Use patient advocates to talk about using the product. People trust other people, not marketers.

By the way, it’s not over. Trump is still insisting that we will have a vaccine this fall while everyone else says that’s impossible. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Quantitative research n=535