|How Well Do Companies Advertise OTC Products To Practicing Physicians?|
|May 14, 2011 by Donald Riker, PhD|
As a non-practicing member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology I receive monthly a copy of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology aimed mostly at practicing allergists. This journal is the leading source of research on allergy and asthma. Within its pages, however, are advertisements for OTC consumer products that relieve allergic symptoms. But how well do manufacturers sell well-known OTC products to the professional community of practicing specialists? Let's look.
In all cases products sold OTC for the relief of allergy symptoms are already well known to allergists who have prescribed these drugs for many years prior to their marketing to consumers. Most OTC products are bought by consumers without the recommendation of a physician. Today OTC recommendations by physicians may be driven not only by their perceived efficacy, but by cost considerations, for example the full cost of an OTC to a patient versus co-pays for Rx scripts. Thus, physicians may create transient brand loyalty through hand-out of professional samples. Advertising former prescription products to these physician specialists requires assessing whether such ads are generating incremental trial of these familiar medicines. Is it efficient media and promotional spending and, if so, how to do so in a way that doesn't seem "unprofessional". So here are reviews of all OTC product advertisements in the April, 2011 issue of JACI in order of their excellence at targeting doctors:
Claritin was a notable no-show in this issue, perhaps smart use of ad dollars. All these manufacturers, except Zaditor in their ads, offer samples to doctors (or coupons) the seeming objective of the exercise. The efficiency of professional advertising of OTC products in a media plan needs constant evaluation as to its objective and effectiveness in promoting awareness, patient trial, and repurchase via physicians. Price/value to the consumer is paramount for any out-of-pocket therapy in the doctor's mind.
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