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Leveraging a brand's medical moment of truth.

Committing extensive resources to detailing doctors and heavily marketing to patients using traditional DTC venues are standard techniques used by pharmaceutical companies to educate their consumer groups. So why, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education, are half of all prescription medications not taken correctly by patients? Lack of persistency--up to 50%--can be traced back to message deficiencies from the patient's prescribing physician. In order to increase compliance marketers must focus on improving the patient-physician interaction.

New research points to the initial prescribing office visit--also known as the medical moment of truth--as the single greatest opportunity to educate patients. This encourages the building of good adherence practices that become habitual in the first 90 days of therapy and leads to better persistence in the following six months to one year. Missing elements of this conversation could leave the patient more likely to lapse in therapy.

This presents a unique opportunity to identify gaps in the patient-physician interaction and modify marketing messages to both parties. New technology allows brand managers and sales operations to combine monthly consumer surveys with longitudinal prescription claims data in a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant environment. The result is an objective quantification of the patient-prescriber interaction during the medical moment of truth. It is now possible to determine the effect of specific messages on patient behavior and brand-specific prescription fill rates.

Other elements of the office visit are quantified as well. It has been observed that patients who receive a pharmaceutical sample during their office visit are 35% less likely to fill their first prescription within 90 days. This is especially true for new brands. However, when the sample is packed effectively with the right patient education materials, persistency can improve.

Among some patient segments, up to 50% of lack of persistency can be traced to message deficiencies and over-sampling. For example, in the cholesterol class, patients who report hearing key aspects of brand specificity and health benefits during their office visit will fill 13% more prescriptions on average during the first 90 days, yet only 32% of patients report hearing this message.

Patients who hear from their doctor how and when to take their cholesterol medication are 21% more persistent during the first 90 days of therapy. Unfortunately, fewer than 60% report hearing this message. Furthermore, almost 25% of patients who do not hear this message do not even fill their first prescription within 90 days.

How can prescriber-to-patient messaging information be used to improve brand persistency? This requires a multi-tiered strategy.

Detailing prescribers can improve adherence and reduce their number of telephone queries. Patient-level data research technology can target prescribers who have poor compliance records.

Patients should also be educated before they step into their doctor's office. The 30-day period before an appointment with a physician is when patients are most receptive to receiving information about a disease or condition. Seventy percent of consumers claim the Internet is their most-frequent source of health information. Specially designed Web programs can qualify prospects with an upcoming appointment and equip them with tools to improve the dialogue during their initial doctor's appointment.

Product managers must continue to leverage their compliance and persistency opt-in reminder programs. Samples could serve as an enrollment vehicle to improve program effect at therapeutic initiation.

The knowledge gleaned from patient-level data research, combined with systematic patient education programs, can have tremendous effect on brand utilization. Marketers can influence a consumer's message takeaway and the dialogue between patients and physicians--even the slightest increase in compliance and persistency can lead to sharp sales gains and increased brand marketshare.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Guest Viewpoint
Author:Davis, Steve
Publication:Product Management Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Previous Article:Marketing exclusivity extended to January.
Next Article:Medicare part D: short-term gains, long-term potential.

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