Drug ads linking disease risk with family history influence medication choice

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA Drug advertisements that tie disease risks with family history can influence consumers’ choice of medications and have a beneficial effect on those consumers’ lifestyle choices, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research.


Researchers from the communications departments at the University of Georgia and the University of Pennsylvania analyzed responses of 400 adults who looked at direct-to-consumer ads for various drugs to determine what affect tying disease to family history would have on their decisions to get the drugs and whether the ads would spur them to make healthier lifestyle choices or view onset of a disease as unavoidable.



In one example, participants were shown an ad for Merck & Co.’s cholesterol drug Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin). When shown the original ad, which stated that high cholesterol results from "food and family," the participants exhibited an interest in engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors, but not when the ad copy was changed to "food and inactivity."



"In a way, we do not believe we are like our parents, in that respondents felt they can overcome family risks to health issues by both pursuing a healthy lifestyle and investigating use of the advertised medications," University of Georgia researcher Minsun Shim stated.



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Guest opinion: Harnessing communication power of pharmacy

BY Jim Taratunio

Over-the-counter and health-and-beauty care marketers have been struggling to find ways to harness the communication power of pharmacy to help them build their brand equity. The path to achieve this goal has been for consumer packaged goods companies to develop pharmacy programs designed to educate and capture the attention of pharmacists so that pharmacists may educate their patients about their products at the point of decision-making.

The question is: Are marketers getting the desired effect their programs were designed to deliver, and are consumers getting the right information?

Here are five ways marketers can harness the full communication power of the pharmacy:

1. Understand that pharmacy programs are unique collaborative account marketing programs. Too often marketers “add on” a pharmacy program using OTC/CPG-oriented materials that have strong consumer-sell positioning. This approach does not win the “hearts and minds” of pharmacists. Presentations made to the pharmacy division need to be designed for the pharmacy division and speak to its motivations—not simply a replay of the OTC division presentation.

The pharmacy division is motivated by a professional service orientation, with the pharmacy taking a more active role in the overall health and wellness of its patients, growing loyalty and retention by being a trusted provider of healthcare services.

The OTC division is focused on classic retailer procurement practices, viewing medicines as CPG products and using the conventions of category management, shopper marketing, and unit and dollar sales and profits as success measures.

2. Pharmacy time is valuable. The high cost of a pharmacists’ time can be offset by effective utilization of pharmacy technicians and pharmacy associates, by assigning two levels of messaging based on the skill set of each group.

Pharmacists should primarily fill a support role (i.e., “reactive”), counseling, providing education, recommending product and answering questions on an exception basis. Pharmacy technicians and associates should fill an awareness role (i.e., “proactive”) at either the prescription drop-off or pick-up.

Messaging should take no more than 30 seconds for a pharmacist to complete in a typical patient encounter, and 15 seconds for an awareness message by the pharmacy technician.

3. Develop collateral materials that will actually be used by the pharmacy team. Message communication at the pharmacy needs to be different than the traditional OTC/CPG approach. Marketers need to speak to the patient through the learned intermediaries in their language. Tone and positioning matter—pharmacists consider themselves unbiased healthcare professionals who want to focus on the health and wellness of their patients, and provide educational information and guidance for their medication choices. Collateral materials should include:

Acover note that provides a top-line summary of the program, roles and responsibilities, start and end dates, goals, objectives and measurement criteria, and authorization by pharmacy division management;

Apharmacy team training guide that conforms to retailers’ specific pharmacy operations and training methodologies in a format that can be easily downloaded at the pharmacy, and includes:

– A pharmacology box in a format consistent with OTC monographs;

– Scripted consumer-counseling examples to ensure consistency in messaging; and

– Scripted pharmacy technician/associate awareness messaging.

Patient collateral material should provide understanding of the relevant condition, a condition management segment that includes the brand as a suggestion for symptom relief, tips for lifestyle changes and prevention, and an offer that is customized on a retailer-specific basis.

4. Develop easy-to-understand performance criteria with reasonable and well-defined goals that are agreed on by pharmacy management.

Keep the program short to maintain interest and enthusiasm—we recommend a period of approximately three weeks with fixed start and end dates;

Establish a fixed number of patient interactions per week defining those interactions as an equivalent of a transaction;

Clearly define the parameters of patient interactions;

Define the roles of the pharmacist and other pharmacy team members;

Have product available at the counter; and

Avoid such peak workload periods as flu vaccination season and the Medicare and Medicaid prescription drug plan change period, when pharmacy programs tend to be more crowded for resources.

5. Measure it. When people know the program is being measured, compliance levels are higher.

Obtain a copy of the pharmacy management store-level e-mail communication;

Request a simple report that details the number of stores that read e-mail for review with pharmacy management;

Be specific—assign three levels of patient-interaction goals based on total number of prescriptions dispensed, demographics and condition propensity. This helps pharmacy managers allocate the resources needed to accomplish program goals. For example:

– Top script volume stores: 75 patient interactions per week;

– Mid-level script volume stores: 50 patient interactions per week;

– Low-level script volume stores: 25 patient interactions per week;

Conduct a statistically significant telephone survey in the last week of the program with pharmacy managers to review the overall program, patient interaction goals, number of patient collateral materials remaining, issues and opportunities; and

If using a coupon as a patient-added value, assign a special code to those coupons to determine if there was any sales lift.


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Navarro unveils new look at original store


MIAMI —On June 24, Navarro Discount Pharmacies held a grand reopening of its original store at 1243 SW 8 St. in Miami, which opened in 1961 as El Nacional Drug Store.

The renovation of the 10,000-sq.-ft. store includes a new merchandise layout, new colors, enhanced signage and improved services for customers, such as a pediatric pharmacy for busy parents, free compounding pharmacy services, a free Diabetes Club for adults and children with diabetes, and free prescription delivery for all customers. Other stores in the Miami chain will undergo the same renovations and enhanced services.


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