Direct to Consumer: If These Walls Had Ears - Pharmaceutical Executive


Direct to Consumer: If These Walls Had Ears
New research shows how DTC affects patients' conversations with physicians.

Pharmaceutical Executive

What was the most surprising thing about the results of the study?

GATTUSO: I thought that we would probably find more direct requests for brands that were advertised. People often read the data quickly and say, "So you're saying that DTC doesn't work." That's not what we're saying—DTC does work. What we are saying is that it's probably not working exactly as people believe; and we're also saying that we have an opportunity to make it work more effectively for the patients taking therapies.

It shows we can improve the doctor– patient conversation in a more emotionally validating way, in a context that allows a patient to truly understand how a disease affects their lives.

How can pharma companies incorporate this information into their marketing strategies?

COLUMBIA-WALSH: Consumers are very empowered, but they're like first-year medical students—over-confident and under-qualified. And if part of the cure is improving the physician–patient dialogue, then I think our segmentation and targeting have to be based on both quantitative and qualitative goals. We really have to think about how messaging can be articulated in a way that is truly relevant and can bridge the gap between the physician and the patient.

Bradley Davidson, VP, account group director of MBS/Vox, contributed to this article.


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