Friday, February 08, 2008

When HSN and Drug Marketing Collide

A new MTV is in the making but, in this one, the M doesn't stand for Music (not that is does in the original either) it stands for medication. Via Marketing Overdose, it appears as though the EU is on the verge of making the same mistake of allowing Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription medications to hit the air. Now our friends across the pond can join use in mutual hypchondrical behavior because they too have been brainwashed to think heartburn and GE Reflux are one and the same and, therefor, in need of daily medical intervention; and find out every complaint they have is really a symptom of a medical condition that needs pharmacological intervention.

DTC drug advertising, even that in the form of an informational campaign about a disorder, isn't an advocacy group outreach program to ensure people get the social support they may need, it's a lure to get people to go to their physicians indicating they think they would benefit from a specific drug because they have some or all of the signs/symptoms they've heard are indicators of a disorder that drug can alleviate.

The costs of this increased marketing overseas are likely to have a greater impact on patients in the US as the bulk of that cost will be made up in price increases here since there is strict price control in the EU. Add that to the regular price increases related to marketing costs here and those that are, ostensibly, due to increased [tax deductible] research & development costs (including "independent" research that is used to obtain insurance coverage & publicity for off-label indications, as well maintain good relationships with "Key Opinion Leaders" and other important physicians).

Prescription products are not the same as other consumer products:
  • A Health Care Provider (HCP) licensed to prescribe medications must make a clinical evaluation & decision to administer treatment; then
  • The "consumer" [patient] is provided with a prescription that legally authorizes the patient to obtain the product from another licensed professional. [alternately, the HCP can treat directly the consumer with the product and/or provide samples]
Pharma manufacturers uses DTC advertising because they rely on the fact that some doctors (too many) will write a prescription because a patient asks for it.

Contrary to popular belief, the banning of DTC ads for prescription meds would not be a violation of the right to free speech or an unfair infringement on marketing practices. The decision regarding what is and is not appropriate medical intervention is made by the HCP him/herself. Pharma manufacturers can and do advertise to HCPs (the people who, essentially, control sales). Pharma also finds other creative, often marginally compliant, ways to market their products to HCP which generate extensive sales from patients and non-patients alike.

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1 comment:

International Regulatory Affairs said...

Thanks for this great post.....