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At a time when consumers are making decisions about filling a prescription and managing daily necessities, it becomes imperative that the industry approach to DTC reflects a "we are in it together" mindset.
PRESIDENT | SURGE WORLDWIDE HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATIONS
A recent article in Archives of Internal Medicine explored cost-related nonadherence in a group of adults with employer-provided drug coverage. The analysis found that slightly more than 21 percent of patients had not yet begun therapy five years after diagnosis. The authors noted the implications for both policymakers and providers in ensuring that patients who require medical therapy are not discouraged from getting treatment and are aware of the important benefits of treatment. At a time when many individuals have to choose between filling a prescription and managing daily necessities like buying food or paying rent, it becomes imperative that the industry approach to DTC reflects a "we are in it together" mindset. In addition to a product's clinical benefits, it is just as important to demonstrate the economic and social value drug treatment provides by improving quality of life and long term health outcomes.
This approach is certainly not a new one for the pharmaceutical industry. There is a rich tradition of rising to the occasion by taking the responsible course. In 1941, Pfizer senior management members used their own assets to fund technological development and expedite penicillin manufacture for the war effort. Many companies have joined forces to provide testing and drugs for HIV and malaria treatments in developing countries. As recently as 2007, and on the heels of catastrophic hurricane damage, healthcare organizations involved in the manufacture and distribution of pharmaceutical products created Rx Response, a program to help support the continued delivery of medicines during a severe public health emergency. Their "response" underscores the industry's sensitivity to world events and willingness to help provide solutions.
In difficult economic times, it is important that the traditional DTC advertising model evolve. A shift from the "happy people" communication platform to a larger message is imperative. Many consumers do not see themselves in the happy patients portrayed. They have other concerns besides taking the medication prescribed.
The operative word is value, and it can be provided in different ways. For instance, DTC communications about prescription medicines need to serve a larger purpose through creating value for patients/consumers and supporting the public health by increasing awareness about disease.