Drug prices are coming to DTC, and marketers should start planning for the impact it will have on their brands. We work alongside pharma marketers every day, and we are well aware of the misconceptions out there around pricing. Drugs priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars seem predatory to many, in the comment sections of some recent news articles, people are noting that the treatments ‘cost’ only a fraction of the list price to produce. We know that is of course not true, the second pill costs only a fraction, the first pill very often represents billions of dollars of research and development.
Nevertheless, it will be important for marketers to pay special attention to how they position current and future Rx products in this new environment.
For example, it might be wise to lean into patient support and access programs—most brands have strong support programs, but very often they are relegated to the back pages of detail aids or at the bottom of advertisements.
Another critical aspect is the patient journey. Marketers should consider taking a wide-angle view of the journey, rather than limiting their focus to first symptoms—first treatment. A 500k treatment will look exorbitant in this narrow view, but a broader view that includes an extended patient life that may span decades is an easier pill to swallow.
The more we can communicate the emotional benefits of a drug v. focusing on the functional benefits, the more we can communicate the true value of a product.
Above all, this new dynamic should feature prominently in the development of strategic positioning. Very often these factors are left to payer colleagues, but this should be looked upon as an opportunity to take a more realistic account of how the brand will impact consumers. We should expect consumers to become more active in making healthcare decisions, we should expect them to be smart shoppers armed with questions, and marketers who have properly planned and are open to telling a realistic story will win the day.