New York, NY
- Prescription (Rx) drug manufacturers aren't the only drug companies marketing products directly to physicians. Over-the-Counter (OTC) drug makers have discovered the power of "just what the doctor ordered."
"Clearly, doctors can impact market share by influencing patient treatment decisions," said Fariba Zamaniyan, vice president and spokesperson for Ipsos PharmTrends174
, the syndicated tracking study from Ipsos-Insight, the global marketing research company and member of the Ipsos Group. "In product categories where both OTC and Rx treatment options exist, competition is intense. Marketing to doctors can help boost OTC brand awareness and encourage patient trial and product sales."
Patients who were recommended an OTC treatment by their doctor purchased more per year than patients who purchased OTCs without a recommendation, Ipsos PharmTrends syndicated tracking data found.
"Doctor recommendations are influencing consumer loyalty and are therefore resulting in sales growth," Ms. Zamaniyan said. "Patients have faith in what doctors recommend to them and our findings show they are likely to continue to buy a recommended product."
Claritin OTC and Alavert were launched in December 2002, and Prilosec OTC, the former blockbuster Rx, became available without a prescription this week. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising awareness and brand loyalty are influencing trial of newly converted blockbuster prescription compounds. But they aren't the only factors.
For example, nearly half of consumers who purchased Claritin OTC in its first six months on the market reported purchasing it because of a doctor's recommendation. This proportion is significantly higher than the average for OTC allergy drugs (42% vs. 28% respectively) -- not surprising given its recent move from a doctor's prescription.
Buyers who reported that they purchased Claritin OTC due to a doctor recommendation purchased an average of 2.2 units vs. 1.7 units among those who did not purchase because of a doctor recommendation within its first six months of market availability.
Currently, just over one-quarter of OTC H2 Antagonist buyers treating acid indigestion/GERD are purchasing due to a doctor's recommendation. This class includes OTC products such as Zantac 75, Pepcid AC, Pepcid Complete and Tagamet HB. However, with the switch of Prilosec OTC, the H2 proportion is expected to reach levels similar to Claritin OTC -- as competitors strive to defend market share against Prilosec OTC's market entry (a new class of OTC treatment for heartburn/acid indigestion).
OTC H2 competitors, as well as Procter & Gamble marketers for Prilosec OTC, are expected to try to leverage professional marketing tactics to gain a share of newly diagnosed patients. Further, promotion to doctors should help move existing Rx heartburn and acid reflux sufferers to OTC alternatives.
Since 1997 -- when branded direct-to-consumer campaigns from Rx drug manufacturers were allowed -- OTC manufacturers have responded with their own professional marketing programs.
According to PharmTrends174 syndicated tracking data, the percentage of doctors recommending an OTC drug to remedy, prevent or supplement therapy has increased from 47% in 1997, to 54% in 2002. The response by consumers may vary by ailment category, driven by demographics as well as the nature of the condition.
Osteoporosis and Heart Health/Aspirin therapy rank highest in terms of consumer action.
Three-quarters of the women treating or preventing osteoporosis with an OTC (e.g. calcium) said they purchased their respective OTC because of a doctor recommendation. Similarly, aspirin purchasing for heart health was reported 70% of the time due to a doctor recommendation.
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Ipsos PharmTrends Methodology
Ipsos PharmTrends174 syndicated tracking service captures both prescription fulfillment and over-the-counter purchasing data through a longitudinal and continuous consumer panel of 16,000 households that is representative of the U.S. census composition. Each month, panelists report their prescription and over-the-counter purchases for the treatment of a full spectrum of conditions (general and specific). The monthly tracking began in 1997.
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