Optas survey finds drug companies dissatisfied with marketing approaches

WOBURN, MA: Direct-to-consumer outreach has become more localized, and drug companies are expressing dissatisfaction with mass market PR and advertising, according to a survey of 150 industry marketers, agencies, and vendors.

WOBURN, MA: Direct-to-consumer outreach has become more localized, and drug companies are expressing dissatisfaction with mass market PR and advertising, according to a survey of 150 industry marketers, agencies, and vendors.

The annual survey by Optas, which makes health-marketing software, found that 65% of respondents believe that less money should be spent on ads.

In addition, 49% of survey participants indicated that mass media outreach has a "poor" performance rate, a statistic down slightly from last year's 53%.

"The old models of pharmaceutical marketing are breaking," said Paul Buta, Optas COO. "The industry is not doing something right in terms of PR."

Drug companies are now doing more targeted direct-to-patient campaigns, such as using doctors and pharmacists to communicate with patients, Buta noted.

They are also using more web-based approaches (with e-mail ranking as the most common outreach channel) as well as more local events and sponsorships, he added.

More than 77% of industry respondents said they plan to focus their efforts on these non-traditional methods.

"You need to address patients where they are," Buta said, adding that while national ads and mass media outreach might convince some patients to ask their doctors about a particular drug, others need to hear about it from a source closer to them.

"It's relatively straightforward, but it's new to the pharmaceutical industry," he said.

Buta noted that media outreach has also become increasingly localized.

The survey also found that more than 80% of industry marketers are satisfied with product branding and mass media outreach.

But they're not happy with measurement, and 65% of industry professionals indicated that they must improve in this area. Buta noted that marketers would likely challenge their agencies to link their efforts to new prescriptions.

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