Friday, November 20, 2015

Increased DTC Advertising and Rising Drug Prices - Is There a Causal Link?

There's no denying two facts:

FACT #1: Spending on prescription drugs is increasing dramatically. The Chicago Tribune, quoting data from IMS health, reported (here) that "Spending [in 2014] rose 13 percent [vs. 2013], the biggest jump since 2001, to a total of $374 billion" and

FACT #2: Spending on Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs is also increasing - more so, in fact. Kanter Media reported that the drug industry increased measured media ad spending by 19% in 2014 vs 2013 to $4.5 Bn (see chart below).
Click on chart for an enlarged view.
Is there a causal link between these two facts? Does DTC advertising raise the cost of drugs?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bernie Sanders Blasts FDA Commish Nominee Califf on Drug Reimportation

Senator Bernie Sanders laid into FDA Commissioner nominee Robert Califf during yesterday's Senate hearing. Here's a snippet of his comments regarding reimportation of Rx drugs as a means to lower drug prices - an issue of importance to 91% of voters (for more on that, read this):

Monday, November 16, 2015

How Kim Kardashian Got Hired to Shill for Diclegis by "Auditioning" in a Nutraceutical Ad

You may recall that the FDA sent a letter to Duchesnay Inc. because an Instagram post by Kim Kardashian promoting the company's morning sickness drug Diclegis violated the law (read "Kim Kardashian's Diclegis Instagram Post Raises Issues").

Some time afterward, Alex Peterson, SVP, Health Practice Director at Makovsky -- the agency that hired Kim to do the Diclegis Instagram social media campaign - claimed that Makovsky, through social monitoring, knew that Kardashian was struggling with nausea during her first pregnancy. She’d been talking about morning sickness for weeks (read this account).

No doubt Makovsky also knew that Kardashian promoted nutraceuticals years earlier in 2010. As reported by STAT, in a video ad for the QuickTrim (see end of this post), "Khloe Kardashian rolls languorously in a tangle of white sheets and asks, 'Do you feel sexy? Do you have the body you’ve always dreamed of?' The shot switches to her sister Kim, shimmying out of a pool and commanding viewers to 'Create the body you deserve'" (read "Celebrity selfies, lax regulations drive booming supplement industry").

Makovsky claimed they reached out to tell Kim about Diclegis and found out that she was already taking the drug, her doctor had just prescribed it.

But could Kim have been talking about her morning sickness as a prelude to working with Makovsky so that the above account by Peterson would sound perfectly plausible?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pharma Digital Investment is Increasing, But Still Only 3-6% of the Total Promotional Spend

Every year I get a call from a market analyst asking me what the trend is for digital marketing spending in the pharmaceutical industry. He wants to know if the profits of health websites, which depend on drug display ads, will increase or decrease next year.

Who am I to judge?

I only report the data I glean from various sources. For example, recent data from IMS Health Global Pharmaceuticals Marketing Channel Reference indicates that worldwide pharmaceutical industry investment (i.e., spending) in sales force and marketing channels was nearly $71 billion in 2014 - a drop in 1.4% from 2013. BUT... the digital channel investment increased 32%!

Source: IMS Health. Click on image for an enlarged, readable view.
However, spending on digital channels accounts for only $2.3bn or 3.2% of the total $71 billion promotional spend worldwide.

Let's dive a bit deeper into the data and compare it to other estimates over the years.

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