There is news out from the Direct Marketing Association as reported by Pharmaceutical Executive that forecasts that as the result of a number of events and issues, Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) marketing is poised to pick up quite a bit this year and continue for the foreseeable future. The bulk of that growth is slated to take place in email and on the Internet.
And this build up is occurring at a time when Congress is poised, as I’ve been writing here often, to re-cast FDA and the pharmaceutical market and accompanying practices with significant reforms that will include DTC as recently evidenced by a call for 800 number inclusion for adverse event reporting by consumers on all DTC.
From this, there are a few considerations for those in pharma marketing:
- There is an opportunity to think ahead of the curve on DTC reform and begin enacting now prior to the legislation. Analyze what is coming and respond now, then spread the word of your good actions to consumers and on the Hill;
- Even if you don’t want to get ahead of the curve, take extra care in DTC at this time as it is going to be subject to an extreme amount of scrutiny in the coming months on the Hill;
- If you are going to get more involved in the Internet, do it with a comprehensive communications plan that goes beyond an ad campaign, but one that addresses all of the challenges of the unknown in the Internet and is crafted to avoid Warning letters, not invite them; and
- Many of the reasons for falling sales have nothing to do with the level of advertising – consider also the roles of public relations and public affairs.
Given the increased attention on DTC by both industry and regulators, there is plenty of food for thought for both sides.