But doesn't mass-market radio and media still draw more consumers to the doctor?
BUTA: I think that's a fair assessment. At the acquisition level, those broader channels make sense, but I think the return on investment
is more solidly proven with the direct-marketing programs. Keeping a patient on therapy can often be a much higher return
on investment, and better for the patient's health. The pharmaceutical company makes more money if people stay on therapy,
the physician's prescription gets tracked more appropriately, and the patient is healthier. So this is a win for all participants
in the system.
Marketers Push for Patient Education
What kinds of patient-education programs are showing positive results?
BUTA: Patient-education programs are being targeted more appropriately to the patients and to the therapeutic category. Traditionally,
pharmaceutical direct-marketing is focused on mass mailings. A patient goes on therapy, you send them one mailing, and then
one month later you send them another mailing. Now, these programs are becoming far more interactive. Perhaps each mailing
has a survey associated with it, so the pharmaceutical company can collect just enough information to know what it needs to
send to the patient to get them through the next hurdle.
How has online DTC marketing changed?
COMAN: Originally, Web sites hosted static communication that described a therapy and information about how a drug actually treats
a disease. Web information now includes more tools, such as the ability to register for more information. By establishing
some sort of a registration, you're creating an opt-in environment where you can start establishing a relationship with that
DTC Spending Trends
Is online marketing moving away from straightforward advertising?
COMAN: DTC on the Web is not really about advertising per se, it's about patient-relationship marketing. The statistic I've heard
is that 50 percent of patients leave the doctor's office not knowing what they were told or what they were supposed to do.
As a result, patients are hungry for unique information that's specific to their situation. I think they're much more willing
to come to a pharmaceutical Web site and share their status, their disease, their prescriptions—and then expect to get assistance
with how to sort through it all and do the best they can to remain on therapy.
Have you seen any innovative tactics used in television or radio ads?
COMAN: Well, the only thing that's new and innovative from my perspective is creating a more integrated program. If you're going
to be doing mass-market advertising, you do it so that you're actually directing people into some sort of form of action.
Taking a Bite of the DTC Pie
BUTA: That's the key trend. It used to be all about awareness for the brand, but now it's really [about] building a relationship
with the brand.
In what areas is targeted therapeutic spending growing?
BUTA: If you want to reach a highly targeted therapeutic area, like multiple sclerosis, it really doesn't make much sense to advertise
on the nightly news—that broad of an approach is not going to get you the people that you need.