Thursday, June 23, 2016

Medication Adherence Won't Get Better Unless Pharma Marketers Accept Some Blame

Adherence, as defined in the Pharma Marketing Glossary, is "Percent of doses of a drug taken as prescribed for entire period of study (compliance + persistence)." In short, "sticking to the proper self-administration of treatment." Lots of patients (perhaps as many as 50% according to the World Health Organization) -- even patients taking life-saving medication -- are not as "adherent" as they should be, which means that the treatment does not work as advertised and drug companies lose money. This has been discussed ad nauseum.

There have been many attempts by the drug industry to improve medication adherence, but it has made very little progress. "Things can only get better" says this article published by PMLive. How so?

The article suggests that "the answer could lay in understanding [patient] behaviours, engaging HCPs and... making medicine fun" [my emphasis]. ROFLOL! I'm going to ignore the "fun" reference for now and concentrate on the fact that this answer focuses the blame on pharma's customers and ignores the elephant in the room.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Digital, Not DTC Advertising, Is the Real Reason Why Patients are "Wasting the Time" of Healthcare Professionals

Recently, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) joined the physicians of the American Medical Association (AMA) in a call to ban ALL direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads (see here). ASHP’s new policy states the following: “To advocate that Congress ban direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and medication-containing devices.”

Physicians and pharmacists spend too much time having to explain TV ad drugs that “aren’t appropriate for patients,” said Kasey Thompson, chief operating officer and senior VP of ASHP’s office of policy, planning and communications.

The AMA agrees. It said that DTC advertising “causes headaches for physicians who must constantly debate patients’ who are convinced a drug is right for them because they have seen it advertised” (see here).

These healthcare professionals (HCPs) seem impatient with patients who wish to have a say in their treatment options. But it’s not DTC advertising that's the cause of this newfound patient “uppityness.” It's Digital, Stupid!

Monday, June 20, 2016

More Free Pharma Lunches Served to Docs = More Prescriptions of the Sponsored Drug

Most physicians do not seem to know that "there is no such thing as a free lunch." Medscape's 2012 Ethics Report survey, for example, revealed that 72% of 23,710 physician respondents answered "Yes" to the question "Do you feel that you could be unbiased with prescribing habits if you accept lunches from pharmaceutical representatives?" (see here).

But, according to other researchers, such thinking is a "slippery slope" on which "Physicians fail to recognize their vulnerability to commercial influences due to self-serving bias, rationalization, and cognitive dissonance" (see "Physicians Under Pharma's Influence: Are Physicians Powerless Pawns of Pharma Psychology?").

Time and time again, when I write about physicians getting free lunches delivered by sales reps, someone always comes forward and says something like "It's ridiculous to think that I can be influenced by a $10 lunch!"

But what if it was a $20 lunch? More recent research indicates those lunches have significant ROI in terms of prescribing brand name drugs.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Are Women Execs Ready to Break Through the Drug Industry's "Glass Ceiling?"

These are historic days for women. For the first time ever, a woman (Hillary Clinton) will be a major political party's nominee for president of the United States. The odds are that Clinton will break through that particular "glass ceiling" this November and women are supporting her effort.

According to (here):

"Hillary Clinton has raised a higher percentage of her campaign funds from women than any major party presidential candidate in recent history.

And Donald Trump has the dubious honor of achieving the exact opposite: He has raised less from women than any other major party’s nominee at this point in the presidential cycle since at least 1989 (which is as far back as our data goes).

The race dynamic makes for the largest gender gap in presidential fundraising history. Clinton has raised 53 percent of her campaign’s contributions of more than $200 from women, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis shows, while the comparable figure for Trump is a mere 28 percent. The divide is nearly twice what it was in 2012, when President Barack Obama raised 44 percent of his funds from women versus former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 28 percent.

Pharma's Glass Ceiling
According to Women in Bio (WIB), an organization of professional women in the life sciences, "women hold just a small number of corporate board seats. In 2015, the 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 companies showed that 17.9% of corporate directors were women. That number drops to 10% in biotech companies. These numbers are disproportional when you consider that women comprise about half of the total U.S. workforce, hold half of all management positions, and are responsible for almost 80% of all consumer spending."

Women, it appears, support breaking the political glass ceiling, but what about the pharma industry glass ceiling?

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Impact of Pharma's Consumer Advertising Spend on Patient-Physician Interactions

Click on image for an enlarged view.
According to Kantar Media:

"Consumer ad spending by drug makers in 2015 reached $6.09 billion ... after $5.12 billion was spent in 2014 and $4.29 billion was spent in 2013. These totals include spending on branded prescription drug ads plus unbranded ads by drug companies promoting awareness of a health condition and directing consumers to get more information, usually leading them to a company website where the prescription drug is offered as a treatment option" (read "Pharma Drug Ads: A Glass Half Empty is a Glass Half Full").

These numbers differ from the direct-to-consumer (DTC) ad spend data reported previously by Kantar Media (read "Annual Spending on Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising Ties an All-Time High"). The chart at the left shows the updated data.

Kantar Media’s CRO, Jon Swallen, noted that all the Kantar Media reports I've referenced included branded plus unbranded DTC. "The difference in spending estimates are attributable to (1) slight differences in the universe of media outlets that were tabulated; and, (2) updates to historical ad pricing and spending data that were received after publication of the earlier report."

In any case, Kantar Media also presented some interesting data regarding the yearly trend in the number of Rx drugs with $500,000+ in annual ad spend as well as physician and consumer attitudes toward DTC advertising.

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