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Prescribing Healthy Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices

10 Jun, 2010 By: Doug McPherson Response

Drug makers are learning that persuading consumers isn’t as easy as, say, popping a pill. Their self-prescription for marketing today? A heavy dose of social media.


“The digital portion is probably the area where there is the most debate over what the best use of this channel should be,” says Jonathan Richman, a blogger on health care marketing. “Certainly, the use of social media is a hot topic, and many companies have already begun some early experiments into how best to leverage this channel. By no means is anyone an expert and most have very little to show for their efforts in terms of results.”

Richman adds that everyone in the industry is still working out how best to communicate with consumers via social media and how to do so in a regulatory compliant manner. For now, he says DTC continues to carry a great deal of communications load and that DTC remains big in the United States (it’s generally not allowed elsewhere around the world).

According to Kantar Media (formerly TNS Media Intelligence), a media tracking company in New York City, DTC is indeed alive and well, especially radio and even newspapers. Kantar found that from 2008 to 2009, drug company spending on radio increased 49 percent, for newspapers 21 percent. TV remained relatively flat.

Gardner thinks stirring in some social media with other DTC channels will yield a healthier mix for future pharma campaigns.

“Though social networking has a place within brand strategy, it’s considered an extension of a plan rather than a stand-alone initiative,” Gardner says. “Social-network initiatives must exist within a surround sound marketing program that delivers relevant, timely information to the consumer and an open forum for a two-way dialogue.”

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