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October 31, 2018 Linda Ruschau0

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Pharma’s presence in patient engagement solutions at the physician’s office has often been a hot topic for debate. Are physicians turned off to these products when they see pharma ads? Is there ever a case where pharma ads are acceptable? How do patients feel? You might be surprised…

Obviously, physicians’ opinions play a critical role in how PatientPoint® in-office solutions are developed, as we have to ensure they are actively using our platforms and find them helpful once in market. To find out more, we partnered with the Digital Health Coalition to conduct proprietary research into physicians’ attitudes and behaviors toward patient engagement technology.

The results demonstrate that patient engagement solutions at the point-of-care can provide pharma with an opportunity to drive better physician-patient discussions, insert their brand into those discussions and ultimately help educate on better treatment decisions. This is an unprecedented and unique ability to impact both audiences at that magic moment when treatment decisions are being made.

Physicians are actually excited

So how do physicians feel about having technology in their offices? To borrow from Tim McGraw, “they like it, they love it, they want some more of it.”

  • In fact, 44% of physicians surveyed said they find new technology that engages patients exciting – and that they use it as much as they can. More than a third feel they need it to remain up-to-date.

Physicians want to be on the cutting edge of healthcare. They value new technology’s role in enhancing the patient experience and providing better information to their patients. The key is not technology just for technology’s sake – it has to help providers be more efficient or provide better care.

But that still leaves the question, “Are physicians comfortable with pharma being present at the point of care?” According to our recent research, the answer is: YES!

  • When asked if they would be interested in receiving free digital engagement solutions that include highly contextual, tailored content along with pharma-branded advertising, three-quarters of surveyed physicians said they’d welcome it.

Note the emphasis on tailored content. Physicians are consumers as well as healthcare providers. Sticking ads in their office with no real benefit to them won’t sit well. However, when you leverage highly targeted, specialty-specific education, pharma brand messages are not seen as intrusive, but rather part of a personalized information package that helps providers and patients make better treatment decisions.

This is just a snippet of a broader study – and we are happy to share the learnings. 

You’re welcome to dive deeper into the study results by visiting



October 31, 2018 Aryeh Lebeau0

The other night I tucked my nine-year-old son Caleb into bed and closed the door. I walked by his room shortly thereafter expecting him to be out cold. Instead, I heard him belting out “Tresiba rea-dy” in tune with the TV commercial we had seen that day. A few days later I took him for a check-up with the pediatrician and was floored when he requested a prescription for, you guessed it, Tresiba.

Okay, it’s possible I made that last part up, but I’m thinking that the song stuck in Caleb’s head wasn’t the brand recall Novo Nordisk had in mind when they contracted for that jingle.

Whether it’s catchy ditties, adorable characters like Xifaxan’s gut guy, or celebrity endorsements, pharma marketers have been pulling out all the stops to make their brands stand out. While these efforts are unquestionably splashy and often memorable, they don’t necessarily resonate with the right audience. Of course, TV commercials like these have drawn scrutiny from the wrong audience, serving as a magnet for criticism of DTC advertising from the American Medical Association, patient advocacy groups, and Congress.

Pharma TV spend crossed the $4 billion mark for the first time in 2016 and rose even higher in 2017 per Kantar Media. It’s clearly not going anywhere any time soon, but with TV spend still dwarfing digital and other media spend, there is a real opportunity for pharma to get it right on DTC by taking advantage of far more targeted platforms.

TV drug commercials are inevitably going to be irrelevant to a large majority of the audience. Even a commercial involving a highly prevalent disease such as diabetes will be applicable to a limited portion of viewers. And most advertised drugs are for conditions with far smaller patient populations than diabetes. Broadcasting these ads to a large, general audience leads to the exact issues critics point to, namely, higher drug prices to offset huge marketing costs and the mass hypochondria caused by self-diagnosis. Yes, there are some who will gain awareness of a condition they or a loved one may in fact be suffering from or a treatment option they should consider, but most who see these commercials will not.

DTC ads do play an important role in fostering an important doctor-patient conversation around treatment options. Utilizing these ads in the right context is the best way to counter anti-DTC sentiment.

  • Digital media –Splashing billions of impressions all over the Internet would be no better than the mass marketing of TV. However, both endemically-aligned contextual campaigns and wider data-driven targeting offer far less wasteful DTC options.
  • Search – Search engine marketing will continue to be a tried and true method. It cuts out the fat by gauging the user’s interest off the bat.
  • Social Media – Various social platforms offer excellent targeting options to reach those following an organization or individual tied to a given condition. Pharma is certainly still learning how to play within the limitations of social, but with a growing number of people getting health information from social, there’s no doubt it’s a place pharma will want to be.
  • Point of Care – There are numerous in-office opportunities that allow for targeted, relevant consumer advertising. Such efforts are particularly valuable in specialty offices.

A side benefit of all of the above is that they are immediately actionable – for digital tactics, users can interact with ads or click-through to learn more about a given treatment. For point of care, of course, they can have a conversation with their healthcare provider on the spot.

Each of these avenues avoids the chief criticism of DTC advertising mentioned above. Promotion through proper channels to an audience primed for relevant messaging will cut back on excess doctor’s appointments and will help reduce the burden on the healthcare system. Reallocating budgets and shifting to more focused options will mean efficient marketing budgets and would ultimately help reduce healthcare costs.

Despite mounting pressure to eliminate DTC advertising, pharma can still provide real value for patients in the right environments to help them make important health decisions. There is too much at stake for the pharma industry and other key interests for an all or nothing outcome. In the end, it may come down to more appropriately-targeted, below the radar approaches that serve as a compromise. While Caleb may still get that Tresiba jingle stuck in his head, at least it will be while researching the merits of basal insulin instead of in the middle of watching a Bulls game.

October 31, 2018 admin0

Zen Chu, MD, of Accelerated Medical Ventures and senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, said “We’ve got so many new technologies and redesigned experiences impacting both the value we deliver and also the value patients are getting from healthcare.” A SWOT analysis shows that virtual reality (VR) is a novelty that will be become another successful communication marketing platform in the pharmaceutical mass media mix. From the assessment below, the benefits of the strengths and opportunities of VR marketing techniques substantially outweigh the challenges of the weaknesses and threats, which inevitably will decrease over time.


Marketing approaches are enhanced with VR by providing more innovative information with immersive storytelling. Patients are exposed to the impacts of their medications by viewing colorful three-dimensional (3D) videos instead of reading dull, long-winded, monotonous drug information in black and white printed materials. The immersive Mechanism of Action (MOA) animation of VR is a full circle video experience with 3D images that provides narrative while stimulating the senses. Spatial audio allows patients to hear information emanating from all directions that result in a blended experience. In-depth sensory perception with VR creates empathy with an inspirational message that takes patients on a journey, captures their full attention, draws them into an encounter with pharmaceuticals, and coerces them into exploring their options while ensuring a memorable experience. Patients are motivated to become engaged with drugs in a resourceful way immediately after a VR pharmaceutical experience, which strengthens the value of VR as a marketing tool.


Pharmaceutical marketers encounter challenges with the promotion of 3D imaginary visuals, the possible high cost of required equipment, an increase in manpower budgets and the subsequent lower marketing budgets and the lack of technology acceptance. Often times, VR marketers are confronted with the seemingly futile struggle to overcome the fantasy versus reality theme. 3D visuals bring the patient into a conceptual, fantasy world of a fictional environment as opposed to augmented realty (AR) which delivers a physical, real-world environment including sound, video, and graphics generated by computer technology. The cost of the necessary head gear can be expensive which could hinder marketing strategies that would promote it as an easily attainable communication vehicle. The patients’ perception is that it is not worth their investment of time and money considering the high probability of the insignificant value of 3D visuals that are not operational on such devices as iPads. VR campaigns necessitate more staff, such as artists, animators, and copywriters, which escalate the cost of manpower while decreasing the available funding for marketing efforts. Modern technology lacks human interaction in a manner that patients believe is detached and aloof. Simple, high-tech tools such as glasses lack warmth and are devoid of personal touch. Combining medicine with technology is regarded by some patients as standoffish and distant.


The promotion of products with branding, growth of empathy awareness through an imaginative experience, education, and training are all marketing opportunities that engage patients and doctors while increasing sales, drug compliance, and the number of new drug users. VR produces branding by supporting products that stimulate creativity and evoke senses which results in a unique, complete experience rather than merely a visual presentation. Empathy is built when doctors reaffirm to themselves that they chose their medical careers so they could positively influence humanity. VR serves as training and education for doctors with the optimistic outlook that any mistakes would occur during these simulated patient encounters and not in the real world. By presenting in videos the negative impacts on the quality of life with drug non-compliance, doctors are encouraged to prescribe certain therapeutic medications to keep patients on drug therapy for a longer period of time. This not only equates to improved health, but also an increase in sales and market penetration during growth and maturity drug cycles.


VR marketing strategies are susceptible to exposing the missing value or content, glossing over the specific benefits and risks of the drug, depicting non-compliance with the FDA, and focusing on a flashy fad. The VR experience is an entertaining simulation, but does not always include the requisite information. Striking graphics can overshadow the content. The patient remembers the glitzy presentation while recalling the data as lackluster. As one pharma marketing executive at Ferring Pharmaceuticals said, “Content is king and experience is queen.” Patients may lose interest in the health topic and be unable to identify the positive and negative impacts of the drug after viewing the video for only a few seconds if there is not an angle to keep them focused on the content. Messages are sometimes camouflaged by a great deal of pizzazz; however, they need to be a true representation of the drug that shows compliance with FDA approval and specific industry regulations. Many patients are under the impression that glasses can be easily replaced with the next innovation which may be less associated with a passing, showy toy, and more connected with a modest health apparatus that has longevity in the industry.

In summary, a SWOT analysis outlines the positives of VR pharmaceutical marketing which surpass the negatives. In the near future, challenges will be overcome in at least three ways:

  1. The cost of equipment is decreasing as demand increases and less expensive, more sleekly designed head gear bursts onto the market;
  2. Technology acceptance is growing immeasurably;
  3. More value and content is being added.

Undoubtedly, VR is destined to become the newest, avant-garde media tool in pharma that will increase patient engagement and ROI exponentially while improving patient well-being.



Bell, J. (2018). Pharma wades into the world of virtual reality marketing. BioPharma Dive.

Best ways to use virtual and augmented reality for pharma. (2017). Viseven.

Champagne, D., Hung, A. and Leclerc, O. (2018). The road to digital success in pharma. Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products.

How is the pharma industry marketing today in 2018? (2018). #TrendTalks.

Senson, A. (2015). “Virtual reality in healthcare: where’s the innovation?” TechCrunch.



October 31, 2018 admin0

A revolution in pharma marketing

Did you know?

  • 72% of patients go online to learn about their condition.
  • And 1 in 4 turn to the internet before speaking to a doctor.
  • Yet only 3% of healthcare advertising budget is spent on digital. And most digital DTC advertising is ineffective.

Are you making the most of DTC digital advertising? This summer, DTC Perspectives and MetrixLab partnered up to bring you a webinar led by Frank Chipman, MetrixLab’s SVP and Healthcare Practice Leader. Click here to watch the recording of the 40-minute webinar to find out how pharmaceutical brands can benefit from this huge opportunity, including coverage on:

  1. The benefits of and growing focus on DTC digital advertising for pharma brands;
  2. Clear guidelines on how to significantly improve the impact and ROI of your DTC digital ads;
  3. A short Q&A session following the presentation.

For more on this topic, you can also read MetrixLab’s whitepaper about digital advertising for pharma companies. Plus, discover some best practices for effective pharma and OTC Facebook mobile ads, as revealed in their recent study for Facebook.


Click here to view the original posting of this content.

October 22, 2018 Bob Ehrlich0
We all know the final price patients pay for prescription drugs is as complex as determining whether life exists on other planets. In no other consumer category do users have no idea what the product will cost. We all can estimate the price of a Mercedes, a four bedroom house in our neighborhood, a new suit, a jug of Tide, or a gallon of gas. We may not be exact but we would get reasonably close. Prescription drugs are unique in that an advertised product can cost $50 a month or $50000.
We would have no idea from watching the DTC ad whether that drug is the $50 or $50000 product. Even our doctor would not know because 72% say in a study by Deloitte they have inadequate price information. Congress wants to remedy that by requiring DTC advertisers to put price information in DTC ads. Consumers widely support this idea and it is from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, at 83%, 72%, and 73% respectively. HHS Secretary Alex Azar is going ahead with the new policy of requiring price disclosure in drug ads.
Bob Ehrlich
“DTC advertisers will face a new FDA guidance on price disclosure.”
-Bob Ehrlich
Of course, that idea is fraught with problems. It is a well-meaning solution but would cause a raft of other problems. We all know the out of pocket cost of our drugs is dependent on our insurance coverage, our deductible/co-pay, formulary status, treatment protocol, and availability of similar drugs. That means you could pay nothing for a $100000 cancer drug, and more for your $100 a month depression drug. Consumers would benefit from knowing what they would actually pay, but that is not possible to do in a voice over or super on screen.
What insurers and government payers really want to do is discourage DTC advertising of expensive drugs. They think that by forcing price disclosure, the premium price drugs would be advertised less because those drug companies would face consumer backlash once price is part of the advertisement. I have wrestled with the positives of adding price to a DTC ad. I can see some benefit giving a heads up to a potential patient that the premium priced drug may cost a lot and therefore may not be covered or restricted to use after cheaper alternatives have been exhausted.
On the other hand, a patient may misinterpret that price as being unaffordable and not pursue further even though it might not cost them much in the end. I come back to the conclusion that discussing price in the ad would probably confuse consumers more than help them. If I were a policy maker I would focus on the doctor by giving them tools to determine likely out of pocket cost for their patients. They already have the patient insurance information so determining coverage status and final cost should not be too difficult to estimate.
I understand the reason insurers and government payers dislike DTC Ads for expensive drugs. It is a legitimate argument that some of these drugs might be only marginally better than cheaper treatments. DTC Ads create demand and put pressure on payers to cover those drugs. An insurer is placed in a tough position of being the “bad” guy by not covering the latest drug. While that may be a consideration, the restricting of advertising is not the best solution. Insurers need to make their case on comparative efficacy to both doctor and patient. Insurers and patients should not want to pay for drugs with minimal incremental benefit. That case is better made downstream from an awareness DTC ad.
DTC advertisers will face a new FDA guidance on price disclosure in the next few months. It will be just a super or voice over stating the list price for a one month supply. This whole exercise is political and unfortunately will not help consumers. What might help more is the drug industry decision to offer comprehensive price information on their branded web sites announced 10/15 by PhRMA. I doubt any drug maker will drop DTC over this requirement although it may give the highest price drugs some cause for concern.

October 2, 2018 admin0

Nathan “Nate” Lucht has joined Rx EDGE® Media Network as President and CEO, as it was announced in a news release yesterday. He will take the reigns from former CEO, Jim O’Dea, who will continue on with the company as Chairman. Having held leadership roles with companies such as General Mills, Boston Consulting Group, and IRI, Lucht has an established track record of success from his background in the CPG, consulting, and data and analytics service industries. “He is experienced in leading organizations, establishing business strategy, and leveraging data and analytics to achieve results measured by not only earnings growth but also in driving customer engagement and loyalty,” stated the news release.

Jim O’Dea shared that they “are thrilled to have Nate join us and lead the next phase of the company’s continued growth strategy.” With Lucht adding, “As part of our industry’s unique media mix, pharmacies are in the very best position to be where potential patients are receptive—and motivated to act. I am looking forward to building on the company’s current strategy and collaborating with the team to develop new strategies and ideas to help our clients reach more consumers and grow their businesses.”

Rx EDGE Media Network, a division of LeveragePoint Media LLC, is a leading provider of consumer media solutions distributed through a network of 30,000 retail pharmacies. Having partnered with more than 175 brands from 70 pharmaceutical manufacturers across a variety of therapeutic categories since 2000, Rx EDGE programs provide health information and education to consumers at a critical point-of-care touchpoint.