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DTC in Perspective: My Predictions for 2017

It is always fun to hear pundits make predictions. Most of the time they are wrong but we eagerly watch experts tell us who will win elections, how much stocks will rise, what the price of oil will be, and which film will win best picture. We have a media that exists to debate these issues 24/7.

Bob Ehrlich

“We have not had such uncertainty since 2009.”
-Bob Ehrlich

So why should I miss out on the prediction game. I really have no way of knowing what will happen in health care, DTC spending or regulation. I do, however, have an informed opinion on where we might end up. So, for what it is worth here goes for 2017.

  1. DTC will continue to thrive no matter what the politicians decry about greedy drug companies. We have the first amendment and DTC generally works well as a promotional strategy. True, Congress knows the drug industry is an easy target. They also know that drug marketing employs lots of people in their districts. So they will huff and puff but in the end not adopt any rules to make drug ads harder to execute.
  2. Trump is a real wild card as far as drug pricing actions. He may threaten drug companies with Medicare price negotiation and actually mean it. On the other hand Trump knows that forcing prices down could hurt jobs and innovation. More likely he will arm twist drug CEOs to pricing self restraint and then tweet his victories.
  3. Obamacare will be drastically altered to be more free market. Mandated coverage will be eliminated and consumers will have more choices what, where and how to buy insurance. Republicans will replace it slowly, however, and be very cautious throwing currently covered Americans off the insured rolls. Free market policies will shift the burden of health care decisions more to consumers and this has numerous marketing implications for drug companies. Price/value will be something drug advertisers must consider in their messaging.
  4. The FDA will get an overhaul to be faster decision makers on new drug approval and hopefully that will include the glacial moving OPDP. Nothing against the generally nice folks who work there but please try doing research that actually gets done in a timely fashion. Also, the social media train left years ago but OPDP cannot seem to accept consumers know how to easily one click to see warnings and risks.
  5. DTC media mix will continue its evolution towards social media and point of care, but nothing indicates that mass media will decline. Drug companies have better mass media targeting tools and that means getting more effectiveness. In fact more specialty brands are using television because the mass awareness, although inefficient, still brings in enough new customers that justify the expense.
  6. Media consolidation is happening in new media. There are starting to be mergers and acquisitions that will eliminate a whole lot of smaller players. Having bigger companies will make it easier to buy larger physician and patient coverage in Point of Care and Internet media. Drug companies like to one stop shop so expect more dollars allocated the easier it gets to buy large scale.
  7. Expect more drug company corporate media and DTC advertising efforts to justify drug prices. There are valid reasons for high prices in most cases, but Americans are perplexed why they pay more than other developed countries. It is a very tough sell but Americans are demanding to know what the premium price is getting them.

2017 will be an exciting year for health care marketers as change always breeds risks and opportunities. We have not had such uncertainty since 2009 when Obamacare was formulated.

Bob Ehrlich
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at DTC Perspectives
Bob Ehrlich has over 20 years marketing experience in pharmaceutical and consumer products. Bob is the CEO of DTC Perspectives, Inc., a DTC services company founded in 2000. DTC Perspectives, Inc. developed the DTC National Conference, the largest DTC conference in the industry. DTC Perspectives, Inc. also publishes DTC Perspectives, a quarterly journal dedicated to DTC issues and practices. In addition DTC Perspectives, Inc. does DTC consulting for established and emerging companies, and provides DTC marketing plans for pharmaceutical companies.
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