The end of DTC marketing and the dawn of DWP marketing

Richard Meyer suggests that the era for US direct-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs is over – and its now time for ‘Direct With Patient’ marketing.

Consumer packaged good marketers are learning more and more than consumer don’t want to be marketed to, they want a meaningful dialogue with brands that can include product suggestions and other recommendations. This is also could be true when it comes to the marketing of prescription drugs.

The old model, where awareness leads to patients requesting a certain drug, is not relevant anymore because there are too many distractions between awareness and requesting a branded prescription. It’s therefore logical to assume that DTC marketing has to evolve to become Direct With Patient marketing.

Direct with patient marketing (DWP) focuses on providing patients with both the health information they need to make an informed treatment decision, and helps them get the product they need to deal with their health problem. Think of it as guiding patients through the maze that is today’s healthcare system.

Some biopharma companies are already trying this approach – but a much deeper relationship is needed to help patients navigate, what can often be, difficult healthcare choices. It’s not enough to help patients get the drugs they need. Biopharma also has to provide them with help in dealing with insurers and ensuring patients can afford their medications.

As you’re reading this you’re probably thinking that this would be both costly and could challenge FDA direct to consumer marketing guidelines; but overall I have found that the ROI to be high when it’s done the right way. In fact when I worked with a leading biopharma company to test this approach, we found that 90 per cent of the patients contacted filled their prescriptions and were compliant over the test period (90 days).

Is this approach right for your product/brand? The first step is to look at the disease state you market in as a newly diagnosed patient, and try and get the answers you need to make a treatment decision. You’ll probably start with Google and sort through all the relevant and irrelevant information online. Comscore has said that your search for health information will include a visit to a website, but today patients want a lot more information and motivation before requesting any biopharma product.

“Biopharma has an enormous opportunity to empower patients to make the best treatment choice”


Declining returns from DTC

While there are some products where awareness leads to conversion, their number is declining. Last month I flew around the country to listen to focus groups talk about when and how they request a certain brand of a prescription drug. The findings indicated that the search for health information is often confusing and even when enticed with discount cards patients want a lot more information on any drug they put into their bodies.

Biopharma has an enormous opportunity to empower patients to make the best treatment choice. At a minimum it should be tested and implemented a lot more than it is now. Wave goodbye to DTC and say hello to DWP.

About the author

Richard Meyer has over 20 years of marketing experience in consumer packaged goods and healthcare. He has worked for companies like Eli Lilly, Medtronic and recently sold his digital healthcare consulting business to take a position as Chief Strategy Officer.

Among his many accomplishments he was on the Global Cialis launch team where he developed and launched an award-winning interactive strategy winning the highest marketing award at Lilly. He completely redesigned the Medtronic Diabetes site, increasing key metrics, and is recognised as a digital thought leader.

Rich currently works with healthcare clients to develop DTC and HCP marketing initiatives. He leads research for clients and identifies actionable strategies to improve marketing initiatives. He has an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology and lives with his wife in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Visit Richard’s blog here