By most accounts, pharmaceutical companies have been slow to engage consumers through new media formats like social networking and online communities. To date, the largest share of marketing in this industry has been directed to physicians who prescribe medications and to consumers via TV ads. Accenture has been reviewing this topic and analysts believe that pharma companies are missing an opportunity.
However, pharma companies have been treading carefully in the world of new media because of FDA regulations. The FDA warned Novartis earlier this year about its use of the Share button on Facebook. The company's approach did not give users full access to potential risks of a drug but only to the benefits.
Accenture research shows how consumers are flocking to the Web to access medical information. About 2/3rd’s (68%) of consumers search for medical information online. Here’s where consumers say they are looking for pharma information:
- Pharma company website 11%
- Other sources 92%
And yet, 69% of survey respondents say they expect pharma companies to offer information about specific medical conditions which are the target of drugs they market. Tom Schwenger, global managing director for Accenture’s Life Sciences Sales & Marketing practice says pharma companies are missing their opportunity to hold onto a captive audience. Schwenger notes that pharma executives should “reevaluate their marketing campaigns to ensure they are integrated across all patient touch-points and channels to meet customer demand for health solutions, increase trust and brand loyalty and enhance customer perceptions.”
Like other players in the health care industry, pharma companies will be under increasing pressure to hold the line on prices and costs. As a result, Accenture analysts believe that “significant disruptive innovations” will take place in the way that this industry sells and markets drugs. The most successful pharma marketers will be those who can employ social media within the regulations established by the FDA.[Source: George, John. As FDA debates social media rules, pharma isn’t waiting. Philadelphia Business Journal. Bizjournals.com. 5 Apr. 2010. Web. 6 Dec. 2010; Heine, Christopher. Pharma on Facebook. ClickZ.com. 6 Aug. 2010. Web. 6 Dec. 2010]