Friday, July 17, 2009

CNBC and A DTC Ban?

Source: DTC Perspectives
(Issue 366 July 17, 2009)
Written by Bob Ehrlich, Chairman DTC Perspectives, Inc.

I regularly watch CNBC in my home office as I sit and write about or study DTC issues. The two activities are not related since I watch CNBC to track my investments(mostly energy) not to find DTC information. Today, on 7/15, I was unpleasantly surprised around 2:30 pm. Erin Burnett, an anchor I usually find very competent and one of their best, decided to ask some guest Congressmen to comment on some ideas to reform health care. She showed each idea as a chart that was stated in a problem solution format and promoted these ideas as specific ways to save money. I assume these are ideas she or her producers developed themselves or read about. The first idea was to end obesity as a covered anti-discrimination category under the disabilities act allowing employers to “encourage” weight loss. The second was to mandate living wills so people can choose to die earlier and avoid costly life maintenance procedures in those final few months.

The third idea was to ban DTC. Burnett said it would save $4 billion a year and end the practice of encouraging expensive brands over generics. She said it was outrageous that drugs are advertised. I was expecting big ideas on cost savings so I was shocked that DTC would make CNBC’s list. Ms. Burnett said jokingly we need to kill all the lobbyists since they inhibit change.

Ms. Burnett then posited her DTC cost saving idea to a Republican and Democratic Congressman. Would they ban DTC she asked? Democrat Frank Pallone said no. His rationale was very pragmatic. He tried in the past and said First Amendment and media company lobbying made that a no go. The Republican, John Fleming, a practicing M.D. said he feels we should not ban DTC advertising because it brings in people who are then diagnosed and educated on important medical conditions. I was relieved that a frequent industry critic like Pallone had put a ban on DTC off the table on both theoretical free speech grounds and very pragmatic media company constituent lobbying grounds. I sensed Frank Pallone has had enough of the DTC ban discussion for quite a while. The latest reform bill out of Congress does not have punitive tax treatment of DTC in the bill. I suspect the lobbyists used the First Amendment argument to discourage that idea.

Ms. Burnett seemed annoyed that such a practice could not be banned. First she needs to understand that banning DTC would not save $4 billion. Drug companies would not return that money to consumers but instead use it for other promotion or to add to profit for shareholders. Second, she assumes DTC leads to choosing branded drugs over equally effective generics. In fact she asked the Congressmen if generic Lipitor is worth using as a preventative. There is no generic Lipitor and her lack of awareness indicates the problem. Brands are usually prescribed because they are improvements over generics. Most doctors and most patients want to use generics when they become available. It is just that many of the newest medicines are not available as generics. It is true that some brands are no better than older versions available as generics. That cost/benefit decision is up to the doctor and of course the patient. DTC does not make a doctor or consumer choose a brand over a generic.

Ms. Burnett, by discussing DTC as one of three big cost saving ideas, once again shows how the media over plays the impact of drug advertising. That $4 billion spent is about 1.5% of annual drug sales in America. It adds about $8 billion in sales incrementally based on an ROI of 2 to 1. That $8 billion motivated by DTC is less than one third of one percent of our $2.4 trillion annual health care spending. DTC is not a cost problem in our health care system. It is rounding error at most. I keep telling the critics that DTC is an effective but minor promotional tactic. Just because you see it in prime time does not mean it is important. It is very important to me, ad agencies, media companies, pharma marketers, managed care but not to the health care system overall. Highly visible does not always mean highly important.

DTC is just one small part of the prescription drug information system, albeit information meant to sell more of the advertised drug. Do you really think the government plan currently proposed will provide only information meant in the best interests of its patients? No, that system will try to save cost by promoting cheap drugs that are adequate, not necessarily the best. DTC is designed to offer alternative information that is as subjective as government information will likely be. No information source is totally objective, as everyone has an agenda. Government wants to save money; insurance companies want to add to profit, doctors are influenced by habit, detail reps, insurers or peers. No one is unbiased so therefore consumers must take the final decision in their own hands after evaluating multiple points of view. A ban on DTC will just remove a portion of that biased information, leaving the cost mavens to push cheaper, but perhaps less effective drugs.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nick Jonas & Bayer Launch "Simple Wins" Diabetes Creativity Contest

Music Sensation Nick Jonas and Bayer Diabetes Care Invite Kids With Diabetes to Express Their "Simple Wins" in a Creativity Contest

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - July 15, 2009) - Music sensation Nick Jonas and Bayer Diabetes Care are inviting kids and teens with diabetes to enter the "Express Your Simple Win Creativity Contest" online for a chance to meet him in person. Three Grand Prize Winners Will Meet Nick Jonas. Bayer Diabetes Care is the official sponsor of the contest.

Nick Jonas, who has Type 1 diabetes and uses a Bayer CONTOUR® meter, has made a special video announcement about the contest; in which he inspires young people with diabetes to share their creativity and their own personal "Simple Wins." The special message can be viewed and downloaded at

In Nick's video message, Nick talks about what Simple Wins are: "small, everyday victories for managing diabetes that can lead to big differences over time." His Simple Wins include writing lyrics, performing and making music, and he even talks about what inspired him to write the popular song, "A Little Bit Longer."

To enter the Bayer "Express Your Simple Win Creativity Contest," young people with diabetes between the ages of 6 and 18 are asked to record a 15-30 second video that demonstrates their Simple Win in an artistic way. The personal video submission can be a visual demonstration of original song lyrics, photography, painting/drawing, acting or another form of creativity. Once the video is complete, entrants can go to and upload and complete the eligibility criteria to enter the contest.

The contest, which began in April and will last through September 20th, picks three monthly finalists during the last week of each month, and their videos are posted on, allowing the public to vote on the best one, which is announced at the end of the month. Each monthly winner wins a prize and is eligible for the Grand Prize drawing. In October, following the end of the contest, the top three favorite videos will be picked by a team of judges and those entrants will get to meet Nick in person. Grand prize winners will be notified on or about October 30, 2009. Each of the Bayer "Express Your Simple Win Creativity Contest" Grand Prize winners and a guest of their choice will meet Nick Jonas in person on a date to be determined.

Restrictions and limitations apply. For more information: go to for the official rules and regulations, grand prize information, online voting of monthly winners and contest submission guidelines.

The web site also shares Nick's personal experiences with diabetes and Nick's blog posts of his latest activities.

Watch a Special Message From Nick -- Exclusively Online; Video Clip Available at

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Bayer Launches Review for $1 Billion Global Account

Seeks to Consolidate Business With One Holding Company


Posted by Rupal Parekh on 07.16.09 @ 11:21 AM


Source: AdAge (


NEW YORK ( -- German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG has begun a holding-company review as it pursues a global consolidation of its more than $1 billion advertising account, according to several executives familiar with the matter.


The consolidation -- one of many launched by mega-marketers during this recession, in a drive to find efficiencies and cut costs -- will include roster shops that work on Bayer's various brands.


Creative and media duties are spread across a number of entities, among them Omnicom Group's BBDO, which handles advertising for brands such as Aleve and One A Day; WPP's JWT, which handles creative for a number of consumer brands, including indigestion drug Rennie; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative, which handles media planning and buying for the Bayer Consumer Healthcare subsidiary.


Initial meetings are already under way, but an official response to a request for proposals isn't due till later this summer, so the process likely will take several months. Agency and holding-company representatives either could not be immediately reached or referred calls for comment to Bayer, which did not respond by press time.


Bayer, which was ranked 47th on Ad Age's list of top 100 national advertisers last month, has a massive ad budget that has remained relatively flat amidst the economic downturn, according to Ad Age data and TNS Media Intelligence figures.


In the U.S. alone, the company spent $442 million to market its products in 2008, down slightly from $459 million in 2007, according to TNS. Unmeasured U.S. media, meanwhile, is estimated at $387 million for 2008, bringing total U.S. spending to $840 million last year. That figure, only a 2% drop-off from 2007, represents about 7% of the company's total sales, according to Ad Age data. Globally, the company is estimated to spend more than $1 billion on advertising.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pharma company preps for launch by establishing presence on social media channels

Source: ProActive

Over the last 3 months or so, Access Pharmaceuticals has continued to move forward with developments regarding one of their flagship products, MuGard, its proprietary oral mucositis product. What’s particularly interesting is how Access Pharmaceuticals has engaged its growing audience on social media platforms. Access now has a presence on:

Access expects to continue to grow its audience through these Web 2.0 tools and broadening their presence on other platforms as well.

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