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John Mack, Publisher & Editor Has DTC Spending Peaked? OpEd by John Mack

There’s a lot of criticism of DTC from outside as well as inside the industry these days. It’s a mixed bag of good and bad news, however.

There are powerful lobbyists, including employers, insurers, AARP, and Public Citizen, with an anti-DTC agenda in Washington. The criticism takes many forms – increases in drug prices, increase in inappropriate prescribing, etc. Republicans have gained control, but some committee chairs are DTC critics.

DDMAC is re-evaluating its DTC ad guidance and the FDA released preliminary results of its physician survey that says only a minority of physicians believe DTC conveys all the important information about risks to patients (see “Results from Physician Survey on DTC Advertising”). Yet, the results are not at all as damning as they could be. In fact, there is much that is positive.

Many industry experts think there’s too much promotion and not enough education in DTC advertising (see “Trends: Online and Offline Professional and Consumer Marketing”).

Finally, as I pointed out in previous issues, physician organizations like the Texas Medical Association, may be using consumer privacy concerns as a lever to limit pharmaceutical companies’ ability to do DTC effectively (see “Texas Medical Privacy Act: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?,” PMN, Vol. 1, No. 9, November 2002 ).

Is all this scrutiny and uncertainty causing DTC expenditures to peak? You can see the evidence in the data for 2002. See, for example, the chart on DTC expenditure in the article “Top Companies, Classes, and Products in DTC Space” in this issue.

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Issue: Vol. 2, No.1: January 2003
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