Any way you look at it, pharmaceutical DTC marketing translates to big money. This year, industry marketers are closely watching two issues. Writing for AdWeek, Jim Edwards points out that the FDA is expected to rule on the guidelines for online marketing of prescription drugs. In addition, the anticipated federal health care legislation may play a role in the future of DTC advertising. These outcomes of both of these issues will affect the future of the industry's marketing efforts.
Edwards writes, “the FDA is currently considering whether there should be new guidelines that may make it easier for drug companies to advertise online.” The FDA inquiry came about after it cited several drug companies for advertising through Google ads incorrectly. The problem is related to the need for drug makers to list potential side effects along with any benefits in marketing messages. A media format such as Twitter makes these detailed listings impossible. Google has proposed a one-click solution, which brings readers to new pages of additional text, to the FDA. If the solution is approved, industry watchers expect online marketing to soar. "There will be more money spent by pharmas in online marketing than in years past," says Jay Bigelow, president of MicroMass Communications in Cary, N.C.
Second, Edwards explains that new health care legislation will provide prescription drug coverage to 30 million additional U.S. consumers. Though this program will take several years to roll out, industry watchers expect pharma companies to ramp up marketing to reach those consumers.
Finally, the high-risk drug development model used by companies for many years is beginning to change. More companies “increasingly desire broader portfolios of smaller drugs that target specialized conditions.” This lower risk business model also means that drug companies will focus their marketing efforts on niche populations – an ideal situation for increasing their online advertising budgets.[Source: Edwards, Jim. Pharmaceutical Ad Category, AdweekMedia Forecast 2010, 1.2.2010]