DTC marketing for prescription drugs moving online

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The pharmaceutical industry has embraced online media to build relationships with consumers and cut back on traditional broadcast and print media to promote drugs, according to Cegedim Dendrite's latest direct-to-consumer Industry Check-Up Survey.

The survey shows that pharmaceutical companies will spend more on online marketing initiatives this year through Web sites, search-engine marketing and e-mail.

In addition, companies are relying more on educational programs at pharmacies, doctors' offices and newsletters to assist in encouraging patients to take their medication, all of which could have a major positive effect on public health, the study found.

Another trend identified by this year's survey is cautious optimism about direct-to-consumer (DTC) spending growth for 2007. While DTC spending is not experiencing the growth of previous years, nearly half of respondents expect DTC spending to increase this year. Only 25 percent expect it to increase by more than 5 percent, however.

The biggest challenge in DTC marketing continues to be government regulations, according to 61 percent of respondents. That is up from 50 percent last year.

Negative consumer reaction to DTC marketing was cited as a problem by 31 percent of respondents, down from 44 percent last year.

The annual survey's responses come from a cross section of US manufacturers, agencies and vendors.

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