Pharma Marketing to Consumers Faces Continued Pressure from Generics

Generics and the Economy continue to add pressure to Pharma Brand Marketing.  The most recent data released by Wolters Kluwer Health continues to support that even the Pharmaceutical industry is not immune to the economic downturn.  In fact, by the close of 2009, 2/3’s of all prescriptions filled will be for a generic…


Summarized in a recent WSJ article “Many Drug Prescriptions are Going Unfilled”  the data suggests that the numbers of Americans not filling branded prescriptions is continuing to rise.

“Due to cost, U.S. patients failed to fill 6.8% of the brand-name prescriptions their doctors requested in the 2008 fourth quarter, a 22% increase from the first quarter of 2007. Patients also abandoned prescriptions for generic drugs at a higher rate, failing to fill 4.1% of generic prescriptions,” according to the WSJ.

Wolters Kluwer also also reports that “abandonment increased as the amount of the co-pay increased, especially for new prescriptions. For example, new prescriptions with co-pays of $100 or more carry an abandonment rate of just over 20%; while with co-pays of $10 or under, the abandonment is only 4 percent.”

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Avoiding the Tropicana squeeze…What do your best customers deeply appreciate about you?

…back in the saddle after a few tough weeks of keeping up with a few sizable family health issues and keeping up with the work…

So much of a marketers time is spent thinking about how to build brand awareness and attract new consumers…

BUT it seems that even the best marketers overlook –or don’t test with enough rigor –what changes and improvements to attract new users will mean to current customers and loyalists (if we can even continue to use this term in the 21st century…).

New Coke is perhaps the most famous example….but there have been many others…back in November, a new Motrin IB ad campaign incited both non-customers and customers alike to twitter and complain so much about the new ad that within 48 hours J&J appologized and announced its withdrawl from the marketplace.

Most recently…Pepsi’s Tropicana Orange juice (NYT) brought on its own PR nightmare with the launch of its new packaging and “Squeeze” advertising campaign. Most of the negative buzz surrounded the new carton packaging which loyal consumers found both difficult to distinguish at the grocery shelf [“Do any of these package-design people actually shop for orange juice?” the writer of one e-mail message asked rhetorically. “Because I do, and the new cartons stink.”] and devoid of the imagery that they have come to associate with their Tropicana brand…and yes, many, including me, at first glance thought the new carton was a new generic OJ brand…  Continue reading

A Few Takeaways from the FDA Risk Communication Advisory Committee Meeting

On February 26-27, the FDA Risk Advisory Committee met to review the following questions.  The offical docket slides.

I was able to participate in the meeting on Friday and present some thoughts with regard to “How Neuroscience Learning Might Help Improve Risk and Benefit Communications” (Thanks to some great work by Dr Medina and presentation support by Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen) My talk suggested: 1) Greater use of multi-sensory communication elements beyond just words to include visuals,  2) Focus on what is most important–‘less is more’ — as humans generally have difficulty digesting too many pieces of information at once 3) humans need repetition to learn–so if its truly important– repeat, and lastly 4) patterns can aid learning so formats like the drug fact box can be very helpful.

I also enjoyed two of the morning presentations: 1) The Effectiveness of the drug facts box in communicating the benefits and side effects of prescription drugs (L Schwartz/S Woloshin Outcomes Group, VA Medial Center, White River Junction, VT.)  The drug fact box has received much attention recently and represents a vast improvement in design and communication of risks and benefits–and as you will see, made it into the advisory committee’s final recommendations…and 2) Consumer Medicines Information in Europe; learning from research, policy and practice (Dr Raynor Prof of Pharmacy Practice, Univ of Leeds, UK)

Catalina Health Resources also appealed to the committee to mandate one document of patient risk information at the pharmacy level.  Continue reading

Video Games and Healthcare? The Next Frontier in DTC Marketing…

One of my  pharmaceutical clients is thinking about targeting the 18-24 market which got me thinking about video games as a potential way to engage and educate this active segment. And as the Mom of three boys, video games are certainly part of our household, so I find myself learning more and more -despite myself- just to keep up with my children…

A few months ago, I read an interesting blog by Douglas Goldstein (The Health Care Blog) entitled Video games to revolutionaize health and healthcare. The blog coincided with two other events that month:

1. The release of a new book, Changing the GAME: How Video Games are Transforming the Future of Business, underscoring the notion that video games are becoming a valuable tool for mainstream business–used for everything from marketing to training to increasing productivity.

2. The release of a new report by iConecto, a leading digital media solutions firm focused on healthcare, delivering the first comprehensive review of the Health eGames industry.  The report documents a consumer and professional market and outlines 5 major categories for consumer Health eGames including: Exergaming, Brain Fitness, Health Eating, Condition Management and Stress Reduction.  Continue reading

To use a celebrity endorsement or not…only your hairdresser knows for sure.

Courtesy of Ad Age

The latest news that Kellogg plans to drop Michael Phelps (Advertising Age) is sure to further stoke the fires for those marketers either considering new celebrity spokespersons for their brands or deciding whether to extend contracts. As Ad Age reports, “One bong hit seen around the world, and Olympian Michael Phelps is watching at least one contract go up in smoke.”

“Michael’s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg. His contract expires at the end of February and we have made a decision not to extend it,” according to a Kellogg spokesperson. This was the second ‘faux pas'; the other occurred on a 60 minutes interview when Anderson Cooper raided Mr. Phelps’ cabinets and found a box of Honey Nut Cheerios–a non-Kellogg brand…

Both these incidents point to important watch-outs for brands considering celebrity spokespeople. Continue reading

2009: Do you have a ‘Stop Doing’ List to Focus Your Marketing?

As we were developing our website to pay off: “Elegant Prescriptions for Leading Performance”, I stumbled upon Matthew E May and his book The Elegant Solution, and went on to read his two “Change This” manifestos:

Elegant Solutions: Breakthrough Thinking the Toyota Way and Mind of the Innovator.  I was struck with Matt’s insight and unique perspective on Toyota’s ability to continually innovate and produce elegant solutions. I was instantly a fan…

Matt wrote a blog to usher in 2009 that has stuck with me since I read it a few weeks ago–so much so– I would like to share it:  “2009: Don’t Just Do Something.”  It flips on its ear how we often approach problems and life: …always looking for what to do, rather than what to not do.  Continue reading

Stepping up in 2009: Knowing What Consumers Want- Today

No one doubts that Consumers’ deep feelings and emotions-what they really want -will impact the way they think about your company, brand and category.  Nor that those wants keep changing in response to a tumultuous world.

How can marketers keep nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, and mind both open to change and focused on the deep insights we need to stay relevant?

Click on image for larger view.
A rigorous use of research techniques can help go beyond what Consumers typically say–to what they deeply feel and think in their hearts and minds. It’s there – in their often unspoken emotions – that new “aha’s” or insights are hidden that might drive action and reveal how your brand can uniquely respond.

Let the competition give in to impatience and costly temptations of believing that they already know, that their brand today is that same as last year, or that segments are just like them.  Mining for treasure takes a bit of time upfront, paying off by enabling an elegant solution.  Continue reading