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March 30, 2016 Jennifer Kovack0

home theater

The significant majority of pharma budgets are often spent on TV media due to its wide reach and being a great starting connection with consumers.

In a recent study by TiVo, which was not pharma specific but rather covered a broader TV industry perspective, found that reducing TV ad spend led to a loss in ROI for 11 of 15 brands studied. Conducted in partnership with consultancy engagement firm 84.51° (a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Kroger Co.), TiVo research discovered that “for every dollar decline in ad spend, the 11 brands lost 3x that amount in return.” The white paper was sponsored by media companies such as A+E Networks and Turner.

To read more about the TiVo report, “Independent Study Confirms That Decreased TV Advertising Spend Hurts Sales,” click here.

March 29, 2016 admin0

4PL Models, Value-Based Services and Patient/Pharmacist Bloggers

In this US presidential election year, political candidates and commentators alike are engaging in passionate discussions about the current movement. The candidate campaign slogans run the gamut from “A Future to Believe In” to “Fighting to Break Down Barriers that Stand in the Way.” The pharmaceutical industry should go with the flow of the political karma, part of which is to pursue a path of emerging channel innovations including 4PLs, value-based services, and scientific evidence – as well as experience-based communication. As with every revolution, there are advantages/disadvantages, opportunities/threats, and benefits/obstacles. The only way that pharma can truly succeed is by owning it – assuming responsibility for the strategies – and making the best decisions possible to bring about change.

Moving from Wholesalers to a 4PL Model: Logistics of Selling/Delivering Drugs to the Patient

A fourth-party logistics model (4PL) hinges on providing services to patients for their supply chain management functions. 4PLs specialize in integrated operation, warehousing, and transportation services which can be adapted to fit patient needs.


4PL costs will be lower than the fee that is currently charged by wholesalers. The supply chain design is simplified because the current wholesaler and distribution centers will be eliminated. Shipment data, security, drug safety, and simplicity are increased and improved. Manufacturers will be allowed to build direct relationships with retailers and focus on their R&D and marketing efforts.


On the other hand, wholesalers believe that profits are hindered by unions. Manufacturers will be forced to retain product liability for a longer period. 4PLs have a trivial reach in remote areas. A copacetic ordering interface for patients will not be realized due to a lack of relationships with retailers. 4PLs also do not have the overall scale, size, or experience of wholesalers, and are not prepared to deal with business continuity planning. Waste will be increased, medications discarded, and supply chain inhibited by non-salable drug returns.

Moving from Price per Tablet to Price per Outcome: Value-Based Services

Designing services that are focused on value will enhance patient compliance and diagnostics through value-based health care. This approach will deliver the best probable health consequences at the lowest cost by using new health care informatics. Creative technology allows pharma to collect outcome data that identifies best practices, drives interventions that have the highest impact, and shares conclusions with clinicians and the public.


Pharma has a chance to not only reestablish strategies but also rearrange operating models to attain high efficiency. Corporations will engage in different strategies that take into consideration treatment paths, drug services, and partnerships in a challenging market. Their expertise in epidemiology, health economics, and e-health promotes collaborative efforts between R&D and commercial business. Improving health outcomes requires distinct ways of handling research, clinical development, regulatory, and medical affairs. Pharma has the resources to financially support investigations into different value-based business models.


Past regulatory approvals relied heavily on efficacy, safety, and the potential of pioneering drugs for unaddressed medical needs. With leading edge value-added services, both public and private payers will create health technology assessment (HTA) units that evaluate new drugs in terms of their comparative and cost-effectiveness based on real time, real-world evidence. Less reimbursement, benefits package exclusion, and lack of regulatory approval can result when established criteria remains unmet.

Moving from Non-Critical Thinking to Scientific Evidence- and Experience-Based Communication: Patient and Pharmacist Bloggers

The dynamics of patient and pharmacist bloggers in social media emphasize a patient-centric strategy, transparency, and scientific evidence- and experience-based communication. Gathering input from patients to understand their needs so that advanced health services can be delivered, engaging, interacting with patients individually and in group settings, and encouraging a patient-focused community culture is significant in the evolving communication styles.


Patient bloggers interact with an online population about their personal health experiences at individual stages of their illness and develop relationships and build trust each step of the way. Studies show that patients who ask questions and offer opinions about their treatment process have considerably better results and will often share more information and be more motivated to adhere to a treatment plan. Pharmacist bloggers provide scientific evidence-based information which identifies, resolves, and prevents unanticipated and unwelcome drug therapy issues. These bloggers educate in the decision making process and encourage patients to take an active role in their self-care.


The privacy issues of patient bloggers become paramount when patients expose the details of their illnesses and specific medications / treatments. Transparency is stifled and real life experiences are hidden. Patient ego prohibits inquisitiveness at the risk of appearing to be unintelligent and uninformed due to a lack of medical awareness. Patients adopt the idea that pharmacists may have ulterior motives, such as promoting certain drugs over others for personal monetary gain. They assume a passive approach and allow pharmacists to drive their care as a patriarchal figure and decision-maker in the absence of a physician.

In summary, pharma can learn from the heated presidential debates and town halls that are taking place all over the country this year. The message is clear for pharma. It needs to understand the strategy of emerging channel innovations by identifying goals, assembling teams, building business cases, communicating plans, and implementing innovations. The industry will move forward by confronting barriers and doing everything possible with channel innovations such as 4PLs, value-based services, and scientific evidence- and experience-based communication to effect positive transformation. Pharma needs to establish expectations that are higher than the norm and hold itself accountable while setting aside all doubts and fears.

March 29, 2016 Phil Baumann0

The relevance of social media monitoring and engagement in the healthcare industry

Billions of conversations take place every month on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, as well as blogs and forums. These conversations are not only taking place in social settings, but are influencing companies as well. Social media use continues to rise as we see more people using it in both their personal and professional lives — and brands are responding by continually looking for better ways to engage with them. All of these conversations comprise pools of rich data, but listening to them for meaning can be challenging. So, how do companies make sense of all this endless data to determine how and where to listen, identify what consumers are talking about, classify the types of content they are posting and understand the behaviors they are engaging in?

C3i Healthcare Connections Graphic 1In the healthcare industry, patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) are looking to social media for information and support regarding their health and the health of their patients. They serve as a “perpetual focus group,” whose conversations taking place on social media provide brands with the opportunity to listen. Patients share their opinions, ask questions about diseases and treatment options, and directly or incidentally report adverse events. Meanwhile, HCPs voice opinions on the healthcare industry, provide thought leadership on a wide range of topics such as participatory medicine, reimbursement, and medical education. In a recent survey, more than 40 percent of respondents reported that information found via social media would affect the way they coped with a chronic condition or their approach to diet and exercise; 34 percent said it would affect taking certain medication.1 This demonstrates to companies that patients are directly impacted by what they view on social media and in order for brands to leverage that data radiating out of all the social conversations, several factors need to be in place.

When determining how to utilize the data in social media conversations, one rule-of-thumb is to work backward — start with objectives and determine which categories of data would support the analysis and provide actionable insights. Companies can build a tagging structure based on relevant categories, such as: source (e.g., social media platform), author, type, topic, behavior, and sentiment. For example, if a branC3i Healthcare Connections Graphic 2d is looking to identify who is talking about a product, the kinds of content they are posting, and the topics within their content, a structure that would classify posts into categories such as Consumer, Branded Product, and Medical Inquiry could be utilized. As more and more posts are tagged, patterns, trends, and themes can be identified.

Social media strategists must be cognizant of the regulations pharmaceutical companies face when approaching social media usage and determining involvement. Many pharmaceutical companies have legitimate concerns regarding social media participation, including the need to have:

  • Identification, triaging, and reporting of Adverse Events (AEs), Product Quality Complaints (PQCs)
  • Consistency of messaging and having a team that can adhere to social media promotion guidelines and regulations
  • Previous experience and internal knowledge in terms of social media engagement and usage

The current regulatory environment is understandably daunting and serious consideration must be applied when developing a social strategy. While these challenges exist today and are likely to remain for the foreseeable future, there are prescriptive solutions and industry best practices available to mitigate risk.  Regulations and the strategies that come about as a result can impact a pharmaceutical company’s ability to continue that social media conversation. Reliable processes can be implemented, borrowing best practices from existing patient interaction policies, as well as social monitoring and engagement strategies from other regulated industries.

Other key steps and factors to consider to successfully make sense of social conversations include:

  • Train staff – Reduce risk by utilizing highly trained specialists experienced in the nuance of monitoring, identifying, and triaging AEs.
  • Establish documented workflows – Configure a systematic approach to the identification of AEs and PQCs and their triaging to the appropriate Pharmacovigilance point-of-intake.
  • Technology – Utilize cutting-edge technology platforms to monitor and tag conversations. Although there is no replacement for human engagement, as volume scales, technology becomes increasingly critical for success.

The importance of listening is always stressed in the pharmaceutical industry, but the actual work requires an appreciation of how different people “speak” on social media (patients versus HCPs), understanding the value of categorical organization of data, and the selection and application of appropriate technology. There is no silver bullet, but building meaningful structures out of disparate sets of data is doable – in fact, it’s necessary if the industry is to make the most out of today’s social media landscape. Leveraging social media data and engagement opportunities are crucial imperatives for companies to support key business goals focused around patient and provider programs — and it will pay off.



  1. Social Media ‘Likes’ Healthcare: From Marketing to Social Business. PWC Health Research Institute. April 2012


March 29, 2016 Croom Lawrence0

Healthcare is the most personal of categories, and the micro-/macro-economic benefits of addressing individual patient needs and barriers at population-level scale are huge. Digital marketers from the early 2000s will remember the earliest pushes into personalization – most efforts were not successful. But a lot has changed, especially in the past year. A new generation of multi-channel marketing (MCM) is coming – one that successfully merges time-tested crafts of traditional digital, direct, and RM with rationalized people-based marketing enabled by ad-tech and CRM automation.

We see 2016 marking the turning point in our ability to orchestrate a direct, personal customer interaction in a logical, spontaneous sequence, that is automated and in real time. The results we’re seeing are positive – lifts in ROI as high as 5-10% across industry groups, as well as higher engagement rates, lower media costs, more scalable revenue and profits, better health outcomes, and a rich proprietary data trove that drives the single-most-important source of competitive advantage today – customer relationships.

MCM transformation must now move beyond the incremental. Bigger value creation will be architected through connected journeys where segmented, personalized game plans automate a range of individual addressable opportunities. These media investments won’t necessarily show up on Kantar, so competitive intelligence will be harder to glean going forward. Companies should look both ahead and laterally in their MCM maturity curve to create disproportionate value. For example, digital-centric brands pushing forward with personalization may look to drive greater scale and cultural relevance via traditional DTC and pilot addressable video. HCP-sales-focused organizations should better integrate the consumer/ patient influence models and direct relationships. DTC-focused brands who lack time to master search and content marketing can demonstrate digital halo to secure funding for automation initiatives. Despite this great diversity and range of motion, most firms have to create greater value. Here are four developments I would emphasize to drive continued MCM maturity in 2016:

  1. Prioritize Addressable Media in the MCM Playbook

Personalization is the pinnacle of people-based marketing. It relies on the fact that addressability, the ability to target an individual and create a tailored event stream at scale, is increasing volumetrically across all of the people-based platforms we work with every day, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, and many more. As the agenda and role of the consumer are changing rapidly, marketers have to personalize the way we speak to our audiences.

The good news is that personalization in healthcare can be accomplished in lots of different ways with different levels of effort and risk thresholds. Consider some of these as entry points:

  • Personalized marketing materials include different treatments and offers – or the copy, creative (imagery), and calls to action – based on the recipient
  • Personalized content provides specific materials that are relevant to the individual based on preference data, medical specialty, condition,  demographic data, or based on key terms that the individual provides
  • Preference personalization is when healthcare companies enable their consumers to select product options and manage desired interactions
  1. Accelerate Strategic Planning Cycles via Real-Time Analytics

The prediction for 2016 is that advanced analytics, with more powerful campaign platforms like Adobe Workbench, will continue to become mainstream, particularly to inform how customer strategies drive the overarching business strategy at the enterprise level. Traditional analytics teams working towards monthly reports could not, and cannot, operate in real time. Now, real-time reporting requires faster synthesis and strategy planning oversight. Whether you’re in CPG, financial services, entertainment, or healthcare, all marketing game plans are learning to operate in more real-time environments. Thus, customers’ immediate needs, behaviors, and values can be served in the instantaneous moment of truth. Speed to insight is the new source of competitive advantage in increasingly crowded marketplaces.

  1. Increase Adoption of Next Generation of Immersive Media

We will see further convergence between the addressable digital, virtual world and the real world. You must collapse the physical and temporal distance between your customers and the brand while inserting the brand into both prescriptive and spontaneous journey maps in unique relevant ways. The power of both addressable and more immersive media, including live human-to-human interaction, and supportive content marketing will increasingly simulate and unlock steps towards the real life health experience. Journey mapping will focus more on connective experience design across advertising and augmented care delivery, creating highly experiential value chains that are more immersive accelerating the pace towards true behavior change.

  1. Layer Brand Storytelling Across the Connected Journey

A tighter link with brand storytelling will give newly empowered MCM teams a considerable edge over those who try to build brands in traditional ways. Brand storytelling needs to capitalize on the revamped MCM toolset – one that guides customers to immerse in newly combined digital / virtual reality, but also keeps them focused on the behavioral goals that lead to better outcomes. Whether it’s completing a hospital procedure or starting and staying on a potentially costly prescription medication, brand stories are essential to guiding desired behavior. The future of customer care is about caring for people and people feeling cared for. When measuring healthcare outcomes, high customer motivation scores correlate to a positive mental attitude. Brands must be evaluated on the softer scores that indicate behavior change alongside the hard metrics that indicate engagement.

Connected Journeys Will Define What Good MCM Looks Like

Given changing media consumption behavior and the rise of addressability, brands will be increasingly built in the addressable mid-funnel, giving multi-channel marketing powered by connected journeys a resurgence in 2016. 2016 will require a healthy dose of ideation, but shifting to a customer-driven world where real-time segment needs drive more dynamic planning cycles will accelerate change and speed to volume for most brands. Going forward into 2016, if we expect to fundamentally change the way we go to market, we all need to get better putting the customer at the center of the planning process to illustrate the ideal experience, then align the teams, tools, and talent to push ahead further and faster in the individual conversations that will drive brand success going forward.

March 28, 2016 Givi Topchishvili0

Givi_2 In a recent article in Time’s Money Magazine, Kara Brandeisky put forward a number of ways Americans can save money on prescription medication. 13 to be exact. The solutions are interesting and creative. They range from substituting brand names for generics, asking your physician for combined pills, and pleading with your insurance provider, to changing your insurance policy altogether.

While each individual piece of advice is correct, the complete list strikes me as wrong. This column assumes that we have surrendered to a reality that’s simply unsustainable. As Ms. Brandeisky herself points out in her article, a staggering “43% of those in fair or poor health say it’s somewhat, or very, difficult to afford their medications, and 37% say they’ve skipped out on filling a prescription because of cost, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).”

What happened to demanding action, finding ways to help, or even feeling good old outrage? Instead, we are now being conditioned to update the status and move on.

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s New York newspapers were full of articles with practical tips on how to avoid becoming a victim in the dangerous city. But once again, the bottom line was that people had to live with violence and learn to adjust. Thankfully not everyone agreed, and now most New Yorkers enjoy their city without fear. But making change requires action, not adaptation. Settling for the status quo and losing hope never ends well. Which brings me back to Ms. Brandeisky’s article.

We have a choice: learn how to further yield to constantly rising costs of medication or take a stand and become agents of change. Let’s begin by shifting the discourse. It’s time to stop telling our fellow Americans to request double dosage pills just to split them in two, and focus our attention on things that will actually drive the costs down: fostering fair competition; reforming an outdated patent system that hinders it; demanding transparency in insurance billing; and coming up with innovative technologies that improve compliance and enhance the patient journey.

We have to understand that change will come one way or another. If European companies that make superb alternatives cannot get past the FDA red tape, they will shift their efforts to East Asia, which welcomes competition at a regulatory level. If the Europeans sense that American manufacturers are unfairly undercutting pricing in Europe by using their privileged positions in the States, the companies will start suing in American courts. If businesses in the US continue to be burdened with high employee-insurance costs because of cost-shifting insurance companies, they will escalate the lobbying efforts to avoid the rising expenses. And if institutional players don’t develop innovative technologies through grassroots and crowdfunding, they will be left behind.

I would rather play a role in driving that change than clip pharmacy coupons, which happens to be tip #12 on the Money list.

March 28, 2016 Lily Stauffer0

The FDA has recently noted that there appears to be a trend of serious adverse events among those taking anticoagulants, which may be linked to faulty performance of blood clotting monitors. Senior FDA official Dr. Alberto Gutierrez recognizes this trend, but explains how it is difficult to measure how often these deaths are directly due to device malfunctions. This is because many people taking drugs such as Warfarin are prone to fatal events such as strokes and irregular bleeding. All factors considered, the FDA estimates eighteen deaths in the past two years were linked to erroneous readings. One theory, proposed by Sidney M. Wolfe, Senior Advisor to Public Citizen Health Research Group, suggests that the faulty devices can be attributed to the lack of proper FDA approval process. He continued by explaining how the FDA pushes these products through quickly because they only require that companies prove their device are substantially equivalent to one currently on the market.

Research on this topic has only scratched the surface, and industry professionals such as Wolfe believe that the FDA should continue their investigation into such devices.

To read more from WSJ, click here.

March 28, 2016 Lily Stauffer0

As a result of the sudden Zika virus outbreak, both big pharma companies and non-profits alike are diving head first into vaccine research in hopes of halting this life-threatening virus. First to the table was Sanofi Pasteur, announcing that they “would lead the way against Zika”. Following their successful launch of the dengue fever vaccine, Sanofi is confident they can tackle Zika as the two viruses are similar in nature. Apart from Sanofi’s progress, the WHO has announced that fifteen other groups, both government agencies and big pharma are also working on a vaccine formulation.

To read more about progress on the Zika vaccine, click here.


March 25, 2016 Bob Ehrlich0
Drug companies defend DTC by arguing it creates disease awareness and information on treatment options. Critics of DTC say it pushes high price drugs and creates undue pressure on physicians to prescribe branded drugs when alternative treatments are just as good. An article in the March 23 issues of US News and World Report written by Dr. Kevin Campbell is representative of the anti-DTC position.
The reality is DTC may do what both supporters and critics say. There is no doubt DTC raises disease awareness. There is also legitimate concern that we may take drugs more often than needed. Drug companies benefit from disease awareness by eventually selling more drugs. While drug companies advertise to sell more of what they make, that does not mean consumers are not also being helped.
Bob Ehrlich
“DTC is important part of the patient’s information set.”
-Bob Ehrlich
In fact, DTC lets patients know what new treatments are out there for consideration. That is all DTC can and should do. Drug companies are not objective sources of information. What they say should be vetted by regulators, physicians, payers and consumer advocates. We cannot assume that anyone else involved is objective. Payers want to spend as little as possible whether they are private or public. Physicians have their biases as to which drugs to use and many are slow adopters of new treatments. No one cares about your health as much as you do.
Therefore DTC is just one part, but an important part of the patient’s information set. Unfortunately, there are competing motives in deciding which drug to choose. Patients want the best treatments regardless of what it costs payers. Payers want cost efficiency and are willing to settle for les than perfect treatments. For example, what is the extra few months of life worth to you versus what it is to a payer? That dilemma exists in many end stage cancer treatment decisions. Ads for Provenge and Opdivo for prostate and lung cancer are offering just such hard treatment choices.
Hep C drugs costing $80,000 are another hard choice. The cure is expensive and payers are assessing the benefit of treatment versus other options. Patients want the cure but payers may be reluctant to spend the $80,000 on you. DTC, alerting people of their options, serves a catalytic purpose.  Payers might want to delay covering the new drug to take their time studying its economic value, while patients want to get better now. DTC forces the discussion of coverage sooner.
DTC critics like to say drug selection is a complicated decision best left to the physician. That argument is nice in an ideal world where cost is not a factor. We all know that payers want to pay less and sometimes that means delaying, denying, or refusing coverage. Those payers make doctors go through hoops to argue for reimbursement and being busy folks they can get discouraged. Without pressure on payers, patients lose.
Of course drug companies do DTC to increase sales, not to be Mother Theresa offering selfless advice. They want to increase demand. While it sounds better to say they want to increase disease awareness, they advertise to increase sales. So what is wrong with that? Drug decisions for all constituencies are cost/benefit based. Patients, through DTC are given reasons to ask about the advertised drug. Physicians and payers can accept or reject those reasons. It is messy and sometimes inconvenient for physicians to deal with patient requests. That is the new reality of the information age. Going backwards to restrict patient information is not wise or viable.

March 18, 2016 Bob Ehrlich0

For many years  media pundits have predicted the end of broadcast/cable television as both a dominant medium and as a successful seller of ad space. As a DTC information provider we at DTC Perspectives are media agnostic. We believe in DTC but do not choose one advertising medium to favor. That neutrality has us question the media pundits that say television is a dinosaur waiting to be hit by an extinction event. Every year at the DTC National I ask new media presenters why drug marketers still spend so much on mass media if digital/mobile is replacing it. They usually say drug companies are slow adopters and their agencies steer them to television because it is easier to buy.

Bob Ehrlich
“Television use… has never been stronger…”
-Bob Ehrlich

I usually push back to say drug marketers and their agency associates are smart folks and would not use a medium that does not work. After all, their career success is based on drug sales response to their media selections. They use television because it generates a strong ROI and  can have a fast market share impact. It also puts pressure on insurers to cover reimbursement and motivates doctors to learn about a drug faster.

Despite the dire predictions, television use for DTC advertisers has never been stronger. The latest Nielsen data show television got 68% of the spending in 2015. Nielsen does not measure point of care and understates Internet spending. If we add those numbers  which trade sources say are about $500 million for point of care and around $250 million for Internet, then we have about $6 billion in total spending with television still comprising 59%.

Why has television remained dominant when other industries have spent much more in digital? There are several reasons for the wide use of television for DTC advertisers. Most important is the age of the majority of prescription drug users. The largest drug categories are dominated by older users. They do use the Internet a lot but still watch more television than younger folks. Second, drug ads can be executed well in the 60 second television ad unit and still meet regulatory requirements. In other words television allows for motivating messages. Third, DTC is serious information and that is why the drug makers dominate network, and cable news shows.

I should mention that print spending is still quite healthy. FDA still requires a print brief summary source be mentioned in the television ad. While print titles are declining those that remain are seeing over $1.5 billion in revenue from DTC advertisers.

The health of television does not mean drug marketers are ignoring digital and point of care. New techniques are growing in each area. Point of Care has exploded, and digital is finding a way to introduce drug and disease awareness despite FDA limitations.

I am sure many media pundits in 1997 would be surprised to see television so strong in 2016. Time shifting through DVR devices, Netflix, on-demand options, as well as competition from game apps were predicted to drastically reduce broadcast television use. While teens and millennials may be watching less, and shifting to watching their television on demand, the drug using  baby boomers and their parents still watch a lot of broadcast and cable. Of course eventually the pundits may be correct and television as we know it will be extinct, but it looks like a decades away event.

March 18, 2016 Lily Stauffer0

This year’s DTC Perspectives Top 25 Marketers of the Year list includes ad campaigns both old and new. In addition to the long-advertised household names such as Viagra from Pfizer and Crestor from AstraZeneca, brand managers for some up-and-coming drugs made the cut as well. Such campaigns include Jardiance from Eli Lilly, Belsomra from Merck, and Entyvio from Takeda. Jennifer Kovack, Director of Publishing and Awards at DTC was quoted saying, “the mix of young and old drug campaigns is relatively new to the awards, partly because of the way the industry is changing and adopting more patient-centric marketing methods”.

To read the full article from Fierce PharmaMarketing, click here.

For the complete Top 25 Marketers list, click here.