As regular readers of this blog may know, Pharma Marketing Network recently surveyed readers of Pharma Marketing News and visitors to its Web site about trends likely to affect the pharmaceutical industry in 2006. Respondents could answer highly unlikely, somewhat unlikely, somewhat likely, or highly likely. The aggregated results from 84 respondents are summarized in the FIGURE below.

Trends 2006
I also tapped the brains of several industry experts during a recent Pharma Marketing Roundtable discussion of these issues. This discussion was summarized in the January issue of Pharma Marketing News (see “Pharma Trends to Watch in 2006“; free subscription or reprint fee required). A few pearls of wisdom are excerpted below.

Increase in Generic Competition
As consumers begin to pay more in co-pays for branded drugs, pharmaceutical brand marketers will be under pressure to communicate compelling reasons for them to pay a premium for brand products. “With the advent of consumer-directed healthcare, you have to convince the consumer that paying $50 for Lipitor vs. the cheaper generic version is worth it,” said Jack Barrette, Pharma Marketing Roundtable member and Category Development Officer at Yahoo!

Brand Differentiation
What I had in mind when I created the survey was not the problem of conveying distinctive brand messages to convince consumers to purchase the brand rather than the generic, but distinguishing your brand from the competitor’s “me-too” brand. Take, for example, Viagra vs. Levitra vs. Cialis. Right now, I am finding it difficult to recall which brand — Viagra or Levitra — is promoting “Make the Call” vs. “Strike Up A Conversation.” However, I do get the Cialis message: 36 hours, 36 hours, 36 hours!

FDA Regulation of DTC: To Be or Not To Be?
“The Bush administration is overextended with regard to political capital and it has to cut down the number of fronts it’s fighting on,” said Mario Cavallini, Pharma Marketing Roundtable and Manager, Competitive Intelligence at SimStar. “One of these is the battle of Bush appointees against government agency (e.g., FDA) professional staffers. Consequently, there’s going to be a truce, at least until the end of mid-term elections.”

New Directions: Alternative Media
Nearly two-thirds (61%) of survey respondents felt that there would be cuts in DTC ad spending in 2006 and 58% felt there would be less DTC on TV. Roundtable experts suggested that there would be a re-allocation of where DTC money is spent, not a dramatic cutback across the board. “I think that the channel spend is going to change,” said Vince DeChellis, Pharma Marketing Roundtable member and an independent healthcare consultant. “Medical communication, for example, is going virtual.”

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