After 20 Years of DTC, It’s Time for a New Definition

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54 F e b ru a r y 200 3 PharmaVOICE S THE NEW YEAR BEGINS TO UNFOLD, the pharmaceuti cal industry continues to face challenges on many fronts. Corpo rate profits are down, R&D pipelines have slowed, Washington politicians haven’t eased their attacks, and public perception is near an alltime low. With big pharma facing such diverse difficulties, direct toconsumer advertising in the U.S. has taken a hit. “Many of us involved with DTC firmly believe investment in consumer ad campaigns for prescription drugs has peaked and will flatten or decline for the foreseeable future due largely to curtailment of spending on television, the growth driver for the past decade,” Mr. Hone says. According to Mr. Hone, all of DTC will continue to come under fire, but because of TV’s broad reach and the power of its advertising potential, it will be the medium most affected. “Print media will be impacted somewhat, but the spend on this medium won’t decline as much as the spend on TV,” he says. “I believe that overall mar keting spending in the pharmaceutical area will begin to slow across the board because of slower pipelines and increased generic competition.” So what does this mean for pharmaceutical marketers? Does it mean the end of DTC, as many critics would like? According to Mr. Hone, that’s not going to happen. Rather, there will be many new and more responsible consumer mar keting opportunities emerging from this shift away from the noise of network television advertising. One such area for growth, according to Mr. Hone, will be in directtopatient communications. “The challenge, however, from an analyst’s standpoint is to find a way to mea sure spending on directtopatient communications,” he says. “A lot of directto patient initiatives don’t come under measured media, so it’s hard to make a deter NEWDEFINITION The glory days of seemingly unbridled media spending and relentless television promotion of highermargin new brands are coming to an

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