Does Patient Marketing Drive Sales? And Should It?

These are questions that a lot of people have asked since patient marketing was first approved in the United States.  Does patient marketing drive sales?  In many cases, the answer is yes.  And should it?  In most cases, the answer is also yes.

First, there is the question of ethics. Many believed that it was wrong to promote medications directly to patients, arguing that only doctors should provide information about medical options. With this information, they believed that patients could make an informed decision about the right option for them.

Over the years, a problem with this model has emerged. In many cases, doctors do not initiate discussions with patients about potential issues like Erectile Dysfunction, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Overactive Bladder (OAB), and various mental health problems. Without information from other channels (e.g., patient marketing), patients may go years without proper treatment.

In other cases, doctors may not present patients with the best options for treatment for a variety of reasons. For example, some doctors may suggest a dated option because they know it best, even when there is a better option that has recently been released.

At its best, good DTC marketing promotes positive discussions between patients and their doctors.

So now, the big question. Does the marketing work?

As with all ROI questions, the answer is always conditional: any marketing can provide a good ROI if executed well, and this includes pharma marketing. We now have a specific case where Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) marketing has shown its effectiveness. In our field of research, this situation serves as a perfect test/control example.

In October of last year, the FDA penalized Lundbeck, the maker of Rexulti, for its DTC marketing practices, forcing the company to cease all marketing efforts. Following this, sales of Rexulti stalled significantly.

In its earnings report for first quarter, Lundbeck management discussed how the four-month DTC blackout had affected sales. Thomas Gibbs, head of Lundbeck in the U.S., stated, “DTC is an incredibly important part of our marketing mix, driving over a 2.8 ROI on a year-over-year basis. That is why we observed a flattening in sales,” Gibbs explained.

Does this answer the question sufficiently? Yes, it does. Does it provide Pharma companies with the rationale? It should.

Need More Proof About How DTC Marketing Drives Sales?  We have it!

Our agency, Advanced Insights and Marketing (AIM), has tracked the effects of DTC marketing for over 20 years, from mega brands like Nexium and Crestor to targeted brands like Qelbree. In every case, patient marketing played a crucial role in their success. We encourage you to contact us for additional examples. We have case studies for nearly every category where patients significantly influence their medication choices.