Does high TV ad rotation give patients the wrong idea about drugs?

Who carries more weight with patients: celebrities, models or real people? What one change would influential patients make to pharma's advertising? WEGO Health tried to get some answers from high-profile patients.

In a study focusing on "patient influencers"--those who lead disease groups or online awareness sites, among others--WEGO focused mainly on ways drugmakers can or should develop relationships with patients. But as Medical Marketing & Media reports, the respondents also sounded off on DTC advertising and promotions.

Real people trump models or actors in promo materials, said almost half of the patients in the WEGO survey, which represented a plurality of responses. Featuring real people helps engage patients more, the respondents said.

Pharma also needs to do some work to avoid turning patients off, the survey showed. Pet peeves about advertising were common turnoffs among the survey respondents. They urged pharma to dial back the "sexual innuendo in ads," echoing the much-noted criticism of DTC spots for erectile dysfunction meds. For instance, a new Viagra ad featuring a woman speaking frankly about ED touched off a protest on Twitter ($TWTR) earlier this year.

Some of these influential patients figure drugmakers should ease up on DTC ads across the board. Running so many TV commercials creates "false expectations" of a drug, one respondent said. Another respondent focused on false expectations, saying drugmakers should be more explicit about the response rates for their products, so patients won't be unpleasantly surprised if a drug doesn't work as well--or at all--for them as individuals.

And at least one said pharma should nix DTC completely. "Stop direct-to-patient advertising!" the respondent wrote (as quoted by MM&M). "Laypeople have neither the education nor the clinical judgment to make medication decisions on their own. It puts physicians in a precarious position."

- see the MM&M story

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