Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) drug advertising has become a favorite topic of discussion in recent years. These advertisements, which are aimed at consumers rather than healthcare professionals, have been credited with increasing patient awareness and demand for certain drugs. However, they have also been criticized for potentially leading to overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
India is a diverse country with a rich heritage and stories of the miraculous healing of life-threatening diseases with magical powders, talismans, magical shields, etc.
Taking advantage of these belief systems, in recent years, a shift in marketing strategies by industries has been observed. There is a rise in toxic and misleading advertisements, which are flooded in every kind of media, suggesting miraculous healing of diseases and toxicant the minds of people and their emotions.
Pharmaceutical advertising, including direct-to-consumer advertising, is regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (US FDA) Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP), Advertising and Promotional Labeling Branch (APLB) at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) respectively. The information submitted to the OPDP and the APLB must be accurate, ethical, and non-misleading. Additional information about the product’s benefits and risks must be included in the submission.
The ever-increasing demand for various channels to share information and engage with customers poses numerous challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. Such engagement comes with risks, particularly in the advertising domain. To ensure accurate and good practice, Health Canada regulates the advertising or promotional material before its dissemination in Canada. The Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board (PAAB) is an organization whose advertising pre-clearance service for healthcare professionals is recognized by Health Canada.
To educate patients and Health Care Professionals (HCPs) and promote treatment options, the pharmaceutical industry like many other industries dedicates billions of dollars to advertise and promote prescription drugs. The legislative framework of advertising in Australia comes under Section 42BAA of the Therapeutic Good Act 1989. The Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code outlines the minimum requirements to be followed by the drug manufacturers while advertising therapeutic goods to Australian consumers.
Communication through digital media vastly influences the perception of consumers regarding a product/service. Hence, pharmaceutical firms are constantly evolving to achieve a fair balance while advertising their products. Regulators, on the other hand, monitor the quality and authenticity of the data being published. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the significance of communication was the essence.
Communication effectiveness across the marketing platforms is evaluated primarily based on how well the content engages the audience or, in the case of brands, the consumer. In healthcare, the information available on these platforms is diverse. There are many variations to multiple content types therefore, such boundless volume of content and technical terms may overwhelm the audience with information.
Brand communication is about conveying why a particular brand is a smarter option than the competitors in the marketplace. The Pharma industry is no oblivious to the same. Across the globe, due to the highly fragmented market space, communication becomes the whole and sole prospect to architecture any brand identity.
In an era of Type-Backspace-Enter, relying on the Ink-Paper-Print model especially amidst the global pandemic can be worrisome. Traditional brand communication becomes a difficult affair due to social distancing measures and hence, the society is adapting to the ‘New normal’. Brands across the globe have already adopted changing trends in communication aligning with various pandemic norms. Industries across nations have, therefore, proven their agility in a true sense.