Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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It’s DTC Hunting Season All Over Again! Where’s the Wabbit?

It’s DTC Hunting Season All Over Again! Where’s the Wabbit? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In an email message, Bob Ehrlich, Chairman of DTC Perspectives, wrote:

 

Every year I seem to need to rebut a critic of DTC who proposes a ban. Google DTC advertising and every month there will be call for a ban in the media. These DTC Hunters think that by making it extinct great things will happen. First, they believe prices for drugs would drop dramatically if only drug companies stopped buying expensive ads. Second, the DTC Hunters believe that by killing ads, doctors would prescribe what is best for patients without wasting time explaining the advertised drugs. Third, they believe that by keeping consumers unaware of new drugs, those good old fashioned generics would become more widely used thus lowering consumer and payer cost.

 

First let me admit drug ads are designed to sell more pills. The drug industry likes to say drug ads are meant to educate and they shy away from admitting they use DTC to increase sales. We all can agree that DTC is done only to grow the bottom line. So what? Prescription drugs are a good thing and promoting drug solutions should not embarrass drug companies. The Drug Hunters want to expose these evil folks for wanting to sell more of what they make.

 

So do DTC ads raise prices?

 

Cutting ad spending will not cause drug companies to lower prices. In fact, that money would be redirected to physician promotion or to some other promotion. Since DTC increases sales, one would have to think banning it would reduce sales. Would we expect drug makers to cut prices if they saw sales decline from withdrawing DTC ads? The answer is no.

Pharma Guy's insight:

“DTC Hunters!” I love it! Some “hunters” include the American Medical Association (http://sco.lt/4iRfrF) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (http://sco.lt/6YI5wX).

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Pharmacists Say DTC Advertising Must Go: It's "Not Working" & Wastes Resources

Pharmacists Say DTC Advertising Must Go: It's "Not Working" & Wastes Resources | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

This week a national pharmacist group, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, joined the physicians of the American Medical Association in a call to ban DTC ads (see here).

 

ASHP had been provisionally tolerant of DTC ads--that is, it was unopposed as long as the advertising met certain prerequisites. It had to be educational, using easy to understand language for benefits and risks; include directions for adverse event reporting; and promote safety and allow informed decisions.

 

It became clear to the group that those standards were largely being ignored by pharma companies, said Kasey Thompson, chief operating officer and senior VP of ASHP’s office of policy, planning and communications. So ASHP revoked its provisional support.

 

“There is no question that patient education is important--even some patient education provided by the pharmaceutical industry,” he told FiercePharmaMarketing, adding that, “[A]t the end of the day, a complete ban isn't achievable--we all know the arguments about first amendment rights and free speech--but I think what our delegates are trying to achieve here is to force a conversation between the industry and the healthcare provider community.”

 

Physicians and pharmacists spend too much time having to explain TV ad drugs that aren’t appropriate for patients, he said, and overall “the model out now for DTC isn’t working.” He said the ASHP's move, along with the AMA’s decision, are signals from the healthcare community that it’s time for a change.

 

“Pharma does great things in terms of innovation, and we need this industry. It’s not trying to limit innovation and R&D. It’s about utilizing scarce resources in the most effective ways possible and we think, as the AMA thinks, that direct-to-consumer advertising is not an optimal use of resources," Thompson said. "There must be a better way for smart well-intentioned people that are focused on the patient can arrive at."

Pharma Guy's insight:

The comments from the ASHP regarding the failure of DTC advertising & its tepid nod to pharma's patient educational efforts come soon after the industry's DTC "creative" ad agencies patted itself on the back at the Cannes Lion Health Festival (more on that here: http://sco.lt/86OhyD).

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#Pharma DTC Ads are Biased, But Banning Them Not Wise, Says Biased Expert

#Pharma DTC Ads are Biased, But Banning Them Not Wise, Says Biased Expert | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

DTC lets patients know what new treatments are out there for consideration. That is all DTC can and should do. Drug companies are not objective sources of information. What they say should be vetted by regulators, physicians, payers and consumer advocates. We cannot assume that anyone else involved is objective. Payers want to spend as little as possible whether they are private or public. Physicians have their biases as to which drugs to use and many are slow adopters of new treatments. No one cares about your health as much as you do.

 

Of course drug companies do DTC to increase sales, not to be Mother Theresa offering selfless advice. They want to increase demand. While it sounds better to say they want to increase disease awareness, they advertise to increase sales. So what is wrong with that?

 

Drug decisions for all constituencies are cost/benefit based. Patients, through DTC are given reasons to ask about the advertised drug. Physicians and payers can accept or reject those reasons. It is messy and sometimes inconvenient for physicians to deal with patient requests. That is the new reality of the information age. Going backwards to restrict patient information is not wise or viable.

Pharma Guy's insight:

If "all" that DTC should do is let consumers know there are new treatments out there, then why not just go with "reminder ads" or "disease awareness" ads? 

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DTC Advertising Moratorium Idea Resurrected in Congress

DTC Advertising Moratorium Idea Resurrected in Congress | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
US Rep. Rosa DeLauro has introduced a bill calling for a three-year moratorium on advertising newly approved prescription drugs directly to consumers.


The bill, known as the Responsibility in Drug Advertising Act, would also prohibit ads from running after the three-year moratorium if the Department of Health and Human Services determines the drug generated “significant” side effects based on studies, scientific literature, and other data. It was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).


The legislation, which is designed to amend the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, is only the latest effort to squelch direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines. Three months ago, the American Medical Association called for an outright ban on this form of promotion (here).


Like the AMA, DeLauro also argued that advertising can inflate health care costs if consumers are prompted to seek newer, higher-priced medicines that drug makers may advertise to quickly trigger sales.

Pharma Guy's insight:

This is not the first time a DTC moratorium was suggested. 

Back in 2008, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which is chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific and health policy issues, issued a report recommending a 2-year moratorium on DTC for new drugs. For more on that, read “IOM Report Calls for DTC Moratorium”; http://bit.ly/IOMmoratorium

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Do #Pharma DTC Drug Ads Have Enough Value to Argue Against Banning Them?

Do #Pharma DTC Drug Ads Have Enough Value to Argue Against Banning Them? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
The AMA's proposal to ban all drug ads is, at best, misguided, and, at worst, ignores the benefits of such ads to patients, a former pharma executive said.


According to a study on DTC marketing that was conducted by Eli Lilly, 25 percent of patients who were prompted to visit their doctor after seeing an ad were given a new diagnosis. Of those patients, 43 percent were a “high priority” diagnosis for a serious health condition, like diabetes or hypertension. That same study indicated that 53 percent of physicians felt that DTC ads lead to better discussions with patients because patients are better educated and informed.


In addition, a 2004 Food and Drug Administration survey of physicians and patients found that exposure to DTC ads spurred 27 percent of Americans to make an appointment with their doctor to talk about a condition they had not previously discussed. Another study found that the small print in a drug ad was strongly associated with patients contacting their health care providers.


But there is more.


Pharma Guy's insight:

Rich Meyer is the author of World of DTC Marketing Blog. Although Rich has skin the game, he cites many studies that tout the benefit of direct-to-Consumer (DTC) ads.


Proponents of DTC ads maintain that such ads are educational. What do you think? Take my Value of DTC Survey. You can see a summary of results afterward.

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The First Rx Drug DTC Ad was a "Reminder Ad" & Aired in 1983

The First Rx Drug DTC Ad was a "Reminder Ad" & Aired in 1983 | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

On May 19, 1983, Boots aired the first broadcast television commercial in the United States for a prescription drug, the pain reliever Rufen.


Boots consulted Alan Kaplan, a Washington lawyer who had previously worked at the FDA, to test out the idea. Kaplan arranged for Moench and Boots executives to meet with three top FDA officials at the agency’s Bethesda, Md., headquarters a month before the ad went on the air.


“They were not prepared for the meeting nor could they rule on behalf of FDA,” Moench said. “I don’t think they could fathom the idea that there was an ability to go direct-to-consumer.”


Two FDA officials who attended the meeting told STAT they weren’t shocked by the idea of a drug company wanting to air a TV ad. But they acknowledged that they weren’t sure what to expect.

“Nobody knew what these ads were,” said Lou Morris, who helped oversee the agency’s drug promotion office. “We didn’t know what type of format they would take.”


The federal officials reiterated that the ad needed “fair balance,” the standard for an accurate assessment of a drug’s risks and benefits that governed other drug promotions. Moench’s takeaway was: Air the ad and then we’ll see.


So Boots did, and it quickly ran into trouble. Within two days, the FDA sent a cease-and-desist letter to the drug maker to stop airing the ad, Moench said. The agency asked for a few small revisions, Morris said, and then let the ad go back on the air — for a time.


On the guidance of the firm’s attorney, the ad never made any specific medical claims about its pain reliever. It simply told viewers that if they were taking ibuprofen — Motrin was the biggest brand name at the time — Rufen was available cheaper.


“You had to be a user of that drug to even know what the ad was talking about,” Moench said. “We trod very carefully.”


For better or worse — some scholars argue worse — the modern-day Supreme Court considers commercial speech (i.e. advertising) to be highly protected by the First Amendment. It isn’t clear that, even if they were to convince the FDA or Congress to take action, opponents of direct-to-consumer advertising will be able to overcome that legal barrier.


More practically, those who were there at the beginning of mass-media drug advertising think that it’s too late to roll it back. It’s a part of the American landscape now.


Pharma Guy's insight:

Interesting nostalgic look at the history of DTC ads in the U.S.


“That ship has long sailed,” said Moench, the woman responsible for the first DTC ad. Has it? Read this Pharma Marketing News article:   "'Anti-DTC Resurgence"http://bit.ly/pmn140701p 

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NBER Study: DTC Ads Boost Rx Drug Adherence. More or Less Confirms AMA's Argument

NBER Study: DTC Ads Boost Rx Drug Adherence. More or Less Confirms AMA's Argument | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

While measurement in DTC advertising--in all advertising actually--is often difficult, NBER took a unique and targeted approach to assess as exactly as possible the effect of DTC ads. By using the introduction of Medicare Part D in isolated geographic areas and concentrating on 5 drugs for chronic conditions, researchers believe they were able to isolate and determine the specific effects of DTC on prescription drug use and adherence.


They found that a 10% increase in DTC ad viewing led to a 5.4% increase in the total number of prescriptions filled for the advertised drugs. That same 10% spike in viewing resulted in an increase in drug adherence by 1% to 2.5%, NBER reported.


"We find that drug utilization is highly responsive to advertising exposure," the study asserts. "Advertising increases the take-up of drug treatments and improves compliance for existing patients. Expanded take-up of prescription drugs accounts for about 70% of the total effect of advertising, while increased use among existing patients accounts for the remaining 30%."


The researchers also noted another "important component" to the increased use and compliance of drugs in general. That is, the increase and compliance wasn't just a switch from nonadvertised brands to the pushed one. Evidence showed the ads increased use and compliance of nonadvertised drug in the same therapeutic category in similar proportions, calling the effect "substantial positive spillover."




Pharma Guy's insight:

This more or less conforms what AMA said in its call for the ban on DTC advertising:  advertising “inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate" (http://sco.lt/4iRfrF). 

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ANA v. AMA: Proposed Ban on Rx Drug Direct-to-Consumer Advertising is a Bad Idea

ANA v. AMA: Proposed Ban on Rx Drug Direct-to-Consumer Advertising is a Bad Idea | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In a surprise vote on Tuesday at the Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA), the physician group adopted a policy aimed at banning direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising (see here). The group will now begin lobbying Congress for a ban on these ads.

Unfortunately, this is not a new idea, just a bad one. It would roll the clock back decades to the days when only doctors could be “trusted” to receive information about important health issues. Such an approach is wrong and misguided.

Prescription drug advertising is one of the most highly-regulated advertising categories.  

The FDA has very powerful tools to ensure that these ads are truthful and non-deceptive, as well as the power to impose civil penalties for any ads which cross the line. Congress rejected sweeping proposals to restrict DTC advertising in 2007 when they passed major legislation reforming the FDA. 

Banning DTC advertising also raises very serious First Amendment concerns. In the Western States case in 2003, a case which involved pharmaceutical advertising, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, “If the First Amendment means anything, it means regulating speech must be a last – not a first – resort.” Clearly the AMA proposal fails that test.

The AMA’s proposal comes several weeks after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s call to ban the tax deduction for DTC advertising. It is clear that we are seeing a major renewed focus on this important speech category.  
 
There is substantial data which demonstrates that DTC advertising plays a critical role in our nation’s health care system. One of the greatest health dangers in the United States is the under treatment of life threatening or debilitating diseases. Millions of Americans are unaware that they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, clinical depression or diabetes. All of these diseases can be successfully treated with prescription drugs. Early treatment can be a matter of life or death, or the avoidance of serious disability. Clearly, these drugs help patients avoid strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease and combat mental illness and can thereby save enormous costs in hospitalization or constant treatment by physicians.

We believe that consumers should have more information about their health, not less. DTC advertising, under the FDA’s strict oversight, is providing extremely valuable information to millions of Americans about their health care. Banning these ads or denying the current tax deduction for them would be unwise and counterproductive.

Pharma Guy's insight:

ANA is the Association of National Advertisers. 


From MM&M (http://bit.ly/1X2CORM):

 

A Kaiser Health poll conducted in mid-October found that the majority of US adults said government action against drug pricing should be a top priority for the President and Congress. Respondents also said that drug companies spend too much money on marketing and drugmakers have considerable influence on the medicines that doctors choose to prescribe.


PhRMA spokesperson Tina Stow defended DTC advertising, citing FDA research from 2014 that found “that accurate information about disease and treatment options makes patients and doctors better partners.” She added that “beyond increasing patient awareness of disease (including undiagnosed conditions) and available treatments, DTC advertising has been found to increase awareness of the benefits and risks of new medicines and encourage appropriate use of medicines.”


Coalition for Healthcare Communication executive director John Kamp said that the AMA's decision is a “policy mistake” and that abolishing DTC “would violate the spirit and letter of the First Amendment right of companies to tell the truth about their products and services.”

 

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Leaders of U.S. Biotech Call Trump’s Ban “Misguided.” Big #Pharma Still Stands Mutely Behind Trump!

Leaders of U.S. Biotech Call Trump’s Ban “Misguided.” Big #Pharma Still Stands Mutely Behind Trump! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

We the undersigned, founders and leaders of biotech companies, write to express our deep concern and opposition to the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on January 27, 2017, barring the entry of citizens from seven countries into the United States1.

 

The United States is the world’s greatest developer of medicines and new inventions to ameliorate and cure intractable diseases, a status achieved through massive investment in private and public companies, academia and R&D. Most importantly, our success has been founded on the creativity and dedication of our most precious resource—our people.

 

Our people include researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs and business executives from all over the world. They are colleagues in our laboratories, management teams and boardrooms. They discover and develop therapies that drive US biomedical innovation and deliver new medicines to patients, not only in America, but also across the globe. And they start companies that drive the economic growth and employment provided by biotech. Many of our colleagues from abroad ultimately become Americans, all to the great benefit of the United States. Indeed, a study found that in 2014, 52% of the 69,000 biomedical researchers in the United States were foreign-born.

 

If this misguided policy is not reversed, America is at risk of losing its leadership position in one of its most important sectors, one that will shape the world in the twenty-first century. Indeed, it will harm an industry dominated by smaller companies and startups, the very kind of industry the administration has said it wants to support. It will slow the fight against the many diseases that afflict us, as well as carry negative economic consequences for the United States.

 

From STATnews: “Entirely missing are representatives of Big Pharma, which has been comparatively silent on the issue (“Pharma's Top Execs React to Trump Immigration Ban With Near Universal Silence”; http://sco.lt/8fzALh). Among the world’s largest drug makers, only one, Allergan, has criticized the executive order. The likes of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, and Novartis have either stayed silent or issued statements that expressed support for affected employees but took no stance on the order itself.”

 

Further Reading: “Big Pharma (@PhRMA) Stands Behind Trump Even As He Vows to Lower Prices to Medicare”; http://sco.lt/5461NB

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Congress Nixed Tobacco TV Ads - Will it Do Same for TV #Pharma Drug Ads?

Congress Nixed Tobacco TV Ads - Will it Do Same for TV #Pharma Drug Ads? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

When ex-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli smirked his way through congressional testimony in February, refusing to answer questions about how his former company increased prices for Daraprim, a drug used to treat cancer and AIDS, by 5,000 percent, it (understandably) stoked Washington's and the general public's ire against the pharmaceutical industry. That same month, Congress introduced legislation to ban direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug ads.

 

Not helping matters is this pugnacious election season that's drawn stark contrasts to the broader issue of healthcare. In other words, the pharmaceutical industry finds itself in deep damage control mode. Pharma's fight with Washington isn't new, but according to industry experts, the industry's efforts to restore its reputation have so far been lacking, and the battles with D.C. won't end in the near term.

 

"The tobacco industry and the oil industry are probably the only two industries who have worse reputations than the pharmaceutical industry," says John Mack, publisher and editor of Pharma Marketing News. "There's no advertising on TV for the tobacco industry anymore, so I could see why there are calls to ban TV advertising for prescription drugs."

 

In November 2015, the AMA [called] for a ban on DTC drug advertising altogether, saying that it inflates demands for new and more expensive drugs that may not be appropriate for patients' conditions, and blaming escalating drug prices squarely on marketing and advertising costs (http://sco.lt/5VDlDd).


Congress followed suit in February, when Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D.-Conn.) introduced a bill calling for a three-year moratorium on advertising newly approved prescription drugs directly to consumers. Back in September, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan to regulate prescription drug prices that included eliminating tax breaks for consumer advertising—a proposal that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said "would turn back the clock on medical innovation."
 

Following this year's Super Bowl, which carried a spot for irritable bowel syndrome drug Xifaxan (featuring an animated pink intestine), the FDA took aim at drug ads with animated characters, announcing it would conduct a study to determine whether such figures impact consumers' perceptions or reduce their comprehension of a drug's benefits or risks (http://sco.lt/6fMX0z). Pharma industry experts called foul. "Marketers should be able to consider whether something is the most effective communications method. I'd hate to see aesthetic choices hampered by legislation," says Bob Brown, account services director at healthcare marketing agency Bryant Brown Healthcare.


As with every other marketer, pharma brands are zeroing in on social media and digital efforts, which are more targeted and cost-effective—and could actually give pharma companies a leg up if a DTC ban ever happened, Mack says. "There are a lot of experts and consultants in the pharmaceutical industry who think that money spent on DTC advertising is wasted," he says.


But not everyone believes the industry has succeeded in defending the right to market directly to consumers. Rich Levy, CEO of healthcare agency Myelin Communications, says that while efforts by Pfizer and PhRMA are a step in the right direction, the pharma industry still has a lot of work to do in restoring its reputation. "The industry has done a horrible job of highlighting the benefits of pharmaceutical products, or explaining why pharmaceutical products cost what they do, so they've allowed themselves to get painted as big bad guys. The average patient is going into the pharmacy and seeing that their co-pays are going up—and they're mad. They think it's the big bad drug companies' fault. [Pharma firms] have never done a good job of saying, 'Taking that pill for your high blood pressure is protecting you from life-threatening complications.' ... It doesn't help when a guy like Shkreli buys up the product and raises it by 5,000 percent overnight," he says.

 

Pharma Guy's insight:

I am honored to be quoted in this article. What I propose is a partial voluntary ban as an experiment. Most of the criticism of DTC advertising is focused on TV ads, which may not be as effective as the drug industry claims. I suggest that the industry adopt guidelines that eliminate TV broadcast DTC advertising of brand name drugs (new or old), but allow print and Internet-based DTC advertising. Disease awareness TV ads, which generally are not a target of DTC critics in Congress and elsewhere, can continue. Drug companies could pocket the money saved or spend it on more effective print and Web promotions or on additional disease awareness TV ads. And it may help with the industry's reputation problem.

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The End of Pharma TV? Not Likely! But Consider a Partial Ban

The End of Pharma TV? Not Likely! But Consider a Partial Ban | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In a recent 30 minute network “news” program, I counted 21 commercials/promos, half of which were for prescription drugs, most with computer-generated names that include Xs and Zs, aimed primarily at the AARP/Medicare generations, the largest consumers of these drugs (and the only ones who still consistently watch network evening news programs). Most popular magazines — yeah, there are still a diehard few who actually buy print media — contain multi-page ads for these drugs.

 

The ads, which mostly feature happy seniors leisurely riding in vintage autos or walking/biking/dining/boating/taking photos in bucolic, sun-dappled settings (except when playing lovey-dovey in adjacent bathtubs), with the injunction to “talk to your doctor to see if (fill in the name) is right for you,” have proliferated like amoeba since restrictions on drug ads were removed by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997 (the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two countries that now allow direct marketing of prescription drugs). Pharmaceutical company profits have soared as a result of the ad barrage.

 

In 2014, the companies spent $4.53 billion on ads for prescription drugs. But that pales in comparison to the $24 billion they spent in 2014 on campaigns aimed directly as physicians, many of whom get hundreds of thousands of dollars from the companies in “speaking fees,” meals, gifts, and other perks.

 

The American Medical Association, to its credit, has asked the federal government to ban these direct marketing ads. Citing “a growing concern” among physicians about the negative impact of these constant promotions directly to the pubic, it says, “A growing proliferation of ads is driving demand for expensive treatments despite the clinical effectiveness of less costly alternatives.”

 

Given that Big Pharma is, year-in year-out, the top spender on lobbying members of Congress, and that legal challenges would certainly follow any ban of the TV ads, the AMA request has about as much chance of passage as the proverbial snowball in Hades.

Pharma Guy's insight:

I once said that banning DTC advertising is about as likely as Donald Trump being elected president. You know where that's going! 

 

What I propose is an experiment. Let's eliminate TV broadcast DTC advertising of brandname drugs altogether for one year, but keep print and Internet-based DTC advertising. That is, no broadcast DTC for ANY drug, new or old.

Drug companies could pocket the money saved or spend it on print and Web promotions or on disease awareness TV ads, which are not a target of DTC critics in Congress and elsewhere.

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Giuseppe Fattori's curator insight, March 1, 2016 4:48 PM

I once said that banning DTC advertising is about as likely as Donald Trump being elected president. You know where that's going! 

 

What I propose is an experiment. Let's eliminate TV broadcast DTC advertising of brandname drugs altogether for one year, but keep print and Internet-based DTC advertising. That is, no broadcast DTC for ANY drug, new or old.

Drug companies could pocket the money saved or spend it on print and Web promotions or on disease awareness TV ads, which are not a target of DTC critics in Congress and elsewhere.

eMedToday's curator insight, March 1, 2016 10:33 PM

I once said that banning DTC advertising is about as likely as Donald Trump being elected president. You know where that's going! 

 

What I propose is an experiment. Let's eliminate TV broadcast DTC advertising of brandname drugs altogether for one year, but keep print and Internet-based DTC advertising. That is, no broadcast DTC for ANY drug, new or old.

Drug companies could pocket the money saved or spend it on print and Web promotions or on disease awareness TV ads, which are not a target of DTC critics in Congress and elsewhere.

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All We Have to Fear is... Scary #Pharma Disease Awareness Ads!

All We Have to Fear is... Scary #Pharma Disease Awareness Ads! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Novartis may have just handed the many critics of pharmaceutical advertising a gift.


The drug maker is running a promotional campaign, including a 30-second TV spot, designed to raise awareness of heart failure. But the campaign, which features a man blissfully sitting in an easy chair while water quickly fills his living room, is being called “alarmist,” “terrifying” and “shameful” by heart specialists, according to CardioBrief.


The TV ad does have an ominous feel to it. As water rises, a voice warns that “heart failure is always on the rise. Symptoms worsen because your heart isn’t pumping well. About 50 percent of people die within five years of getting diagnosed. But there’s something you can do. Talk to your doctor about heart failure treatment options. Because the more you know, the more likely you are to keep pumping.”


The controversy arises just three months after the American Medical Association called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines. In reaching its decision, the professional society argued that the advertising is designed to generate demand for new and expensive drugs, which may not be necessary.


One marketing expert believes Novartis is making a mistake.

“Scaring consumers is precisely the goal of this and many other disease awareness ads,” said John Mack, who publishes Pharma Marketing News. “Novartis should pull the ad because it is getting some negative feedback from prominent physicians.


“This is not the time to give the AMA more ammunition to use in its campaign to ban all prescription drug DTC advertising. With all the so-called talented ad agencies out there, I’m sure they can come up with a more creative, less scary, and just-as-effective replacement ad.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Not everyone agreed, though, that the campaign is off the mark. “I think this (ad) is very well done,” said Richard Meyer, a pharmaceutical marketing consultant who writes The World of DTC Marketing blog. “It is helping patients become more empowered by learning about heart failure.  I can’t see any patients running to the doctor to say ‘I have heart failure.’ Rather, it provides information something that most doctors don’t do.”

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Xifaxan TV DTC "Bubble Guts" Character Is Creepy: Another Reason to Ban Ads?

Xifaxan TV DTC "Bubble Guts" Character Is Creepy: Another Reason to Ban Ads? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

It's been called a bowel lizard and a walking colon, nicknamed Bubble Guts, and compared to both a dinosaur and Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks. "It" is Valeant Pharmaceuticals' newest spokes-character, the pink and jiggly "Gut Guy" starring in TV ads for its IBS-D treatment, Xifaxan.


But that's not all people are saying. With a significant TV ad push--real-time ad tracker iSpot.tv noted more than $20 million since it began in October--Gut Guy has gotten noticed. On Twitter, comments skew negative with words like "disturbing" and "creepy," and one tweeter went further with this comment: "An anthropomorphic digestive tract mascot?! We had a good run, humanity."


However, "Gut Guy" also has his fans. At least half a dozen tweets asked for a character "plushy" or doll, while others expressed fondness or empathy for the "cute" and "cuddly" mascot.


"He reminds me of a balloon animal; he's bouncy when he walks. Personally, I feel sympathetic toward him, like 'poor guy, he doesn't feel very well,'" said Niki Strealy, via email. She is a registered and licensed dietician nutritionist who specialized in gastrointestinal issues and is unabashedly straightforward.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Wow! 6 fans on Twitter! What a success. Want more DTC balloon creature? See: http://bit.ly/oSLPEi 

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Passing Law to Ban DTC Drug Ads About as Likely as Trump Being Elected President

Passing Law to Ban DTC Drug Ads About as Likely as Trump Being Elected President | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
The AMA wants to ban prescription drug ads, but it should work with the pharmaceutical industry to limit them instead.


For a ban to go into effect, Congress would have to pass a new law. And given the slim chances for political change, the AMA might be better off reaching a compromise than setting up an antagonistic relationship with drug makers.


The organization argues that the ads largely feature the latest and priciest medicines that few can afford.


“Most of the ads are often for newer drugs that are getting more expensive,” said John Mack, a marketing consultant to drug makers (sic).


By pointing to high prices, the AMA is making a smart move. The accelerating cost of medicines has galvanized Americans. About three-quarters of the public believes that prices for brand-name drugs are too high, according to a poll conducted last month by STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Lawmakers have pushed bills to ban drug ads before, but a new effort is likely to be extremely contentious because of criticism that any limits on drug advertising would trample on the free speech rights of pharmaceutical companies.


“There could be a very serious challenge,” said Sonja West, an associate professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. Courts have ruled that “truthful information” about medicines has public value, West noted, “so it should not be regulated or banned unless there’s an important government interest.”


Pharma Guy's insight:

BTW, I am NOT a consultant to drug makers. In any case, you may be interested in this Pharma Marketing News article: "Anti-DTC Resurgence"; http://bit.ly/pmn140701h 

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Former FTC Consumer Protection Bureau Director Supports 2-Year DTC Ad Moratorium

Former FTC Consumer Protection Bureau Director Supports 2-Year DTC Ad Moratorium | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Watching television these days means sitting through ads for drugs to ease pain, induce sleep, overcome sexual dysfunction, alleviate depression, ease urinary tract symptoms and more. Some patients say the ads are helpful, but many doctors warn that they are often misleading.

The American Medical Association’s House of Delegates voted this monthin favor of a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices. Its officers argued that such advertising “inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”Only two nations in the world, the United States and New Zealand, allow consumer drug ads.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation published in late October found that a whopping 89 percent of the public favors requiring the Food and Drug Administration to review prescription-drug ads for accuracy before they are broadcast. The F.D.A. currently does little to crack down on them, possibly fearing it would violate court rulings protecting commercial free-speech rights. It has never imposed civil fines on a company for a misleading ad or promotion.

Solutions other than an outright ban are being discussed, like proposals to tax the ads, which the courts might deem an infringement on commercial free speech. Another idea is to use public money to pay for evaluations by expert groups of the best ways to treat various conditions, which might emphasize dietary changes or exercise rather than drugs. That would provide unbiased information to counter the drug company ads. Or perhaps a television control device could allow consumers to block drug ads, if they want.

David Vladeck, a law professor at Georgetown and former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, believes Congress should ban direct-to-consumer advertising for two years after a drug has been approved and put on the market. That would allow a brief period for adverse effects to be observed and might pass constitutional muster as a limited restriction to protect public health. Meanwhile, consumers need to be deeply skeptical of what they hear and read from drug companies.

Pharma Guy's insight:

At one time it was thought that  PhRMA's DTC Guidelines would include a DTC moratorium. The only issue was about the exact length of the moratorium -- whether it should be 6 months, one year, or longer. See http://bit.ly/1MIbIHI 


What I propose is an experiment. Let's eliminate TV broadcast DTC advertising altogether for one year, but keep print and Internet-based DTC advertising. That is, no broadcast DTC for ANY drug, new or old.

Drug companies could pocket the money saved or spend it on print and Web promotions, which are not a target of DTC critics in Congress and elsewhere.

What do you think would happen?

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