RLA collective, BrandPerx dive deep on doctors’ OTC recs

Recommendations of OTC medicines by healthcare professionals has always been considered a key component to brand selection at shelf, but those recommendations differ according to the practitioner's specialty, according to a recent survey conducted by BrandPerx on behalf of RLA Collective.

For example, of the medical professionals surveyed, gastroenterologists were most likely to recommend a brand by name so the patient can easily identify that product at the shelf. Howeer, primary care physicians were least likely to recommend a brand by name, but rather would make recommendations of those brands for which they had coupons. And 79% of pediatricians reported that having printed informational materials about an OTC brand was helpful when making a recommendation to their patients.

“The survey tapped physicians in four key specialties – primary care doctors, pediatricians, gastroenterologists and OB/GYNs – and created a snapshot into the areas where OTC brands might benefit from increased HCP – and patient – communication,” Robin Russo, CEO of RLA Collective, said. “Side effects, active ingredients and cost were key reasons for OTC recommendations, as were having samples, coupons, informational material and familiarity with and trust in the brand. It’s important that companies consider these factors when planning their OTC marketing.”

While many of the learnings derived from the survey confirmed long-held assumptions, there were surprises. “We expected OB/GYNs to report higher incidence of feminine itch and yeast OTC recommendations (75%),” Shauna Garshon, president of Brandperx, said. “[But] OB/GYNs [also] were the mostly likely of the four HCP groups to recommend vitamins (83%) vs. primary care doctors (61%), and second to gastroenterologists in recommending heartburn products (44% and 63% respectively), surpassing primary care physicians (32%).”

In addition, 59% of OB/GYNs reported that they were more likely to recommend OTC products when they had coupons available and 56% of OB/GYNs reported that having product samples in their office influenced their recommendation habits.

Russo suggested these and other insights should help brands explore the HCP/OTC relationship more closely.

RLA Collective, a health and wellness marketing agency for OTC and supplement brands, partnered with BrandPerx, a specialized point-of-care patient and HCP sampling and education company, on a 1,600 practitioner survey. The survey looked at what categories of over-the-counter products doctors are most often recommending to patients and what drives these recommendations.