'Trumpcare' could be a boon for pharma DTC advertising: consultant

Replacing the Affordable Care Act could boost DTC advertising, one consultant says.

Pharma DTC advertising is poised to play an important role in U.S. President Donald Trump's yet-to-be-announced plans to replace the Affordable Care Act, the way one industry consultant sees it.

Bob Ehrlich, chairman and CEO of DTC Perspectives, wrote recently that the expected shift to a free market healthcare system means consumers will more often manage spending decisions through a predicted rise in things like health savings accounts and tax credits. Americans will be shopping around more for healthcare services, and that’s where DTC marketing comes in. The increase will happen not just in pharma marketing, but across all health care goods and services, he predicted.

“A free market will rely even more on advertising to pitch and justify services, and this is where DTC will grow,” he wrote. “We already have hospitals and physician advertising to consumers. What will change is a much more explicit price/value-oriented advertising approach. As consumers are given more control over their limited health care spending, they will need more convincing on where to spend those scarce funds.”

In a follow-up interview, Ehrlich told FiercePharma he expects pharma DTC will take on an explainer role with consumers with the depth of information—especially in digital media—growing in importance.

“Drug marketing will change to try to justify brand price premiums over other alternatives. If drugs are covered less in formularies, then DTC advertising will need to pitch price discount programs more,” he said in an email interview. “… Price marketing is not used much now, but we are seeing some ads which guarantee price subsidies for a year or more. That will be much more pervasive for any premium-priced drug.”

His prediction comes as pharma companies are alternately worried and cautiously optimistic about what the unpredictable new president’s bold pronouncements and potential political appointments might mean for the industry.