Monday, February 27, 2006

Companies Seen Boosting Efforts In Disease-Education Programs

Companies Seen Boosting Efforts In Disease-Education Programs


AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Codman (a unit of J&J) are the latest pharma companies to increase efforts in disease education campaigns, with AZ launching a program for breast cancer awareness, Lilly for depression ( and Codman for the neurological condition NPH. Pfizer is running an unbranded awareness campaign for pain management and a Web site with erectile dysfunction education.


While disease education still represents less than 10% of a typical brand’s promotion budget, there is growing evidence of a shift away from branded ads to education efforts. Last year, several companies launched disease education programs around migraine, cholesterol and peripheral artery disease.


Spending on disease education exceeded $14 billion in the first half, or 6% of total DTC spend (see chart on page 8 for 2000-05 comparison).


Disease-oriented ads will become more prevalent as pressure increases on companies to reign in drug prices. Education programs can prompt new users and encourage adherence among existing patients. For AZ, this is the first time the company has focused on the risk of breast cancer recurrence and the need to be compliant with prescribed medication. The program includes a TV spot called “If You Were My Sister.”


Pfizer will boost spending on disease education efforts next year, allocating roughly the amount it spends to promote a single brand. Asked at the recent FDA hearings about the impact of unbranded help-seeking ads, Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals president Pat Kelly said general disease awareness ads “do not drive patients to the doctor to anywhere near the degree that information about a solution or a potential solution will.”



* Branded ads are being supplemented by disease education programs for two reasons. First, FDA and DTC critics wants to see more of these ads, and it is good business to raise awareness of diseases and conditions treated by drugs made by the sponsoring company, particularly as adherence becomes a more important part of marketing programs.


buzz this