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New Study Details Online Habits of Diabetes Patients


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-03-05-2009
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Issue 0

Manhattan Research singled out type 2 diabetes sufferers and their online search patterns; it turns out diabetes patients are less likely to confront doctors about branded drugs they?ve seen in DTC ads, yet more apt to take Lipitor.

Online consumers with type 2 diabetes are significantly more likely to search specifically for pharmaceutical information on the Internet. According to pharmaceutical and healthcare market research company Manhattan Research’s Cybercitizen Health study, two-thirds of type 2 diabetes patients who are online research pharma information, compared to 56 percent of all online adults.

One-third of all online type 2 diabetes patients are using Health 2.0 sources. Though not as high as some conditions, the type 2 population exist within a rich social media space online, implying great potential for Health 2.0 growth among the community. Those already participating in diabetes blogging and online community arena are active and engaged, providing support to patients managing condition and lifestyle choices.

The numbers come from a pair of surveys by Manhattan Research that looked at topics ranging from media consumption to insurance coverage, and from Web site usage metrics to types of diseases and conditions researched.

The Quest for Info
One key point for pharma: Online diabetes patients are using the Web to find drug information. “People with type 2 diabetes, who are using the Internet, are more likely to be searching for pharma than anyone online,” said Fishman. “If you think about it, type 2 diabetes patients are good templates for marketers because they are so willing to look for pharma information online about their conditions.”

Fishman said pharma companies are using social media to get in touch with a younger group of diabetes patients. Pharma companies such as Sanofi-Aventis and Merck offer support programs online for their respective diabetes drugs, Lantus (Lantus.com) and Januvia (Januvia.com). She cites the example of a message Sanofi-Aventis recently posted on the DiabetesMine blog, linking to a Sanofi-produced videoclip on YouTube. In fact, the study discovered that out of a pool of more than 200 product Web sites, Sanofi-Aventis’ Lantus.com was the highest-rated site in terms of visitor satisfaction. Consumers also rated Merck’s Januvia.com as one of the top pharmaceutical product brand sites for visitor satisfaction.

Lipitor, Actos, and Januvia, were ranked the top three product sites, respectively, visited among type 2 diabetes patients. Fishman noted that Lipitor, although not directly prescribed for diabetes, is a prime example of a Web site type 2 diabetes patients would explore for other related information. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they have high cholesterol,” she pointed out.

Fishman also noted that with so many products for this condition on the marketplace, type 2 diabetes patients have a lot of information to sort through online. This is helpful as they are highly likely to go online aftera diagnosis, driving them to a variety of treatment-related sources.

However, the search for information does not translate to branded requests—more than 75 percent of type 2 diabetes patients interviewed said that do not request prescriptions by name when they meet with their physician. That said, over 80 percent of type 2 diabetes patients who requested a brand-name drug had their specific request fulfilled.

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