Back in 2010, I authored a blog post using the patient data that my then 4-year old company had amassed challenging the conventional wisdom that direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is effective at activating a brand request by patients exposed to the advertising. The research that we conducted at Return on Focus at the time uncovered a nuanced, but important distinction in describing the actions taken by patients as a result of being exposed to a DTC advertisement. Our patient research showed that almost 80% of patients characterize their actions as an inquiry, not a request. I thought it would be a good idea to re-test this hypothesis six years later to see if we, as an industry, had made any headway in changing this behavior.
Looking at our updated data set, it appears that the more things change the more they stay the same in biopharma. The empowered, branded requests that we all want to believe our campaigns are evoking still aren’t occurring despite our best efforts. How can I be so sure? In an examination of seven different disease states, the answer most often selected in our research remains “Ask MD about Product X, but listen if he/she did not think it was right for me.”
There is some variability based on disease state to the response, but the majority of patients select this option across the board.
- 79% Cardiology product(s)
- 85% Colon Cancer product(s)
- 89% Breast Cancer product(s)
- 78% Irritable Bowel Disease product(s)
- 80% Episodic Migraine product(s)
- 69% Men’s Health product(s)
- 64% Psychotropic product(s)
Regardless of the category, the vast majority of patients are defaulting the physician’s judgment when driven in by DTCA. In fact, across all disease states no more than 5% in any one category would “seek a second opinion if MD would not prescribe the requested product.”
It was true in 2010 and it remains true in 2016 that the action and articulation of your patient communication platform (positioning + message hierarchy) must be anchored in your professional marketing activities and ultimately in the perceptions of your prescribers. Do you really need to wait another 6 years before calling us to assist you and your team in aligning your Professional and Consumer Communication Platforms?