Uniondale, NY - More consumers are asking their doctors for prescription drug samples - and getting them. And these informed, proactive patients are more likely to fill prescriptions for the brands they have sampled than consumers who do not ask their doctors for samples by name, according to Ipsos PharmTrends a syndicated service that tracks consumer purchase behavior of both prescription and non-prescription drugs. PharmTrends is a registered trademark of world-leading market research organization Ipsos-NPD. "Consumers are not only requesting prescriptions for advertised, brand name drugs, they've also become savvy enough to request samples from their doctors. Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising by major pharmaceutical drug manufacturers has done a good job in raising disease awareness and brand recognition among targeted patient populations. As a result, patients are asking for drugs by their brand name whether it be for a sample or a prescription. This behavior is further evidence of rising levels of consumer empowerment when it comes to their healthcare and treatment options. The flip side is that, while DTC helps drive patients to request drug samples and ultimately prescription fulfillment, consumers who request samples are more likely than non-requesters to be uninsured," said Fariba Zamaniyan, director and spokesperson of Ipsos PharmTrends. The percentage of Americans who fill prescriptions for drugs is increasing and so is the proportion that receives prescription drug samples from their doctors. Across most of the leading DTC spending drug classes, Ipsos PharmTrends observed double-digit growth in patient receipt of samples. This advance in sample receipt can be attributed to increasing competition among drug companies, which promote drug samples to encourage patient trial of their products. This behavior was particularly evident in categories where competition has intensified, spurred by new drug launches such as Clarinex, Advair and Nexium as well as drug recalls from the market such as Baycol for elevated cholesterol treatment. Table 1: % of Consumers who received a prescription drug sample within leading DTC advertising spending drug classes Across these leading DTC drug classes, a quarter-to-a-third of the sample recipients requested the prescription drug sample received. With the exception of the Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drug class indicated for treatment of acid reflux and Cox-2 Inhibitors indicated for the treatment of arthritis and pain, the leading DTC drug classes experienced double-digit growth in patient requests for samples. In fact, this rate of growth for sample requests is more significant than the proportions that ask for the prescription instead. Table 2: % of Consumers who asked their doctor for the prescription drug sample received across the leading DTC advertising spending drug classes
- Among Asthma patients requesting a free sample, the growth comparing January-to-June 2001 to 2002 was +36%. This increase was driven by the introduction of Advair manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
- The Oral Anti-histamine segment also experienced double-digit growth in the number of consumer requests for a sample within this drug class (+22%) due to the launch of Clarinex manufactured by Schering-Plough and the significant level of competitive response that prevailed to fend off potential switches.
- Statins posted the highest level of consumer/patient requests for Statin samples as a result of extensive free-trial offers and sample promotions launched by competing Statin brands such as Lipitor and Pravachol following the recall of Baycol from the market in August 2001.
- The PPI segments' decline in sample requests in 2002 follows heavy promotional activity during the launch of Nexium in 2001, which has since subsided and resulted in double-digit growth in the number of requests for a prescription instead (not the sample).
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