Smoking kills… eleven years later

Ready to see an exciting video? Then don’t click on that. It’s an anti-smoking ad paid for by “Big Tobacco,” and boy is it a snoozer. That’s not exactly a surprise considering the four companies court-ordered to pay for this ad campaign have been fighting tooth and nail to not have to. A quick timeline: in ’99 the US Justice Department filed a racketeering lawsuit, which tobacco companies spent a short seven years in court fighting before a judge ruled they had to pay for these ads. A measly eleven years of denied appeals later, you’ll be able to see the ads start running this weekend on primetime network television. Joe Camel would roll over in his grave if that hump wasn’t in the way.

$2.8B to scare the tar out of you

What’s a sure-fire way to see your physician’s expression change? During your visit, simply say “I was looking on WebMD yesterday and now I think [fill in the blank].” WebMD is one of the most valuable healthcare internet properties and soon you won’t be able to buy its stock. KKR (massive private equity firm) announced this week that it is buying WebMD for $2.8B. WebMD gets most of its revenue from advertisers—and pharma companies are among the largest spenders. But that has dropped off, prompting WebMD to look for options. We suspect KKR is banking on an increase in new drug approvals (read – advertising money) to improve WebMD’s financials. That, and a pharma-friendly FDA wouldn’t hurt either.

“More ads! More ads!”

…said no one …ever. Turns out doctors are no exception. 2,784 physicians across 25+ specialties participated in a survey conducted by Manhattan Research about how physicians access information and use technology.  Doctors are not impressed with pharma websites. In fact, only 27% of doctors find pharma websites to be credible information sources. For all you non-math majors out there, that ain’t high. Physicians feel pharma-sponsored info on third-party sites is “always ads” when what they really want are “education resources rooted in science.” Maybe pharma will see this study, cut back on the ads, and up the educational content? That’ll happen about the time every other industry volunteers to do the same thing (P.S. that’s not gonna happen).

2. Easier to understand – Quantum physics or DTC pharma ads?

Side effects of reading this might include… What does over $5 billion in DTC ad spending get drug makers these day? Answer: Confused patients. InCrowd surveyed 319 US physicians to gauge their views on patient understanding of DTC ads. 65% of the surveyed MDs said their patients do not generally understand info given in pharmaceutical ads. Only a measly 13% of docs said “most of my patients can interpret/understand” these ads. Brand managers won’t be jumping for joy over these stats.  While one-third of physicians would like to ban the ads completely, the other two-thirds think the ads should be improved. InsightCity would like to heartily congratulate any company that keeps the list of disclaimers under one minute.

2. Warning letters with holiday stamps

The FDA is full of holiday cheer and to spread the love they sent two very special letters to Sanofi and Celgene. But these weren’t your typical happy holiday cards, unless you consider warning letters for misleading TV ads festive. We don’t, in case you’re thinking of sending us a present. Among the major health risks cited are how Sanofi’s Toujeo ad has fast-paced visuals that distract the consumer and how Celgene’s Otezla ad turns up the volume of the brass instrumental section as the narrator begins speaking three separate times. It’s Santa’s naughty list for these two. The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion wants these violations to cease, so it looks like the regulatory department will be working overtime during the holidays.

5. Uncomfortably cold…and flu

Alongside dropping temperatures, The Weather Channel has dropped its new Cold & Flu Tracker across their website and mobile app. The app’s purpose is to provide real-time virus activity to different areas so that users can act to protect themselves from getting sick. In addition to providing cold & flu information, it also provides some valuable marketing data to its sponsor, GlaxoSmithKline. Knowing which areas are most affected could help GSK decide where to ramp up marketing efforts. They can also use their position as the sponsor to offer suggestions on what to do if your area is suddenly hit with an outbreak… like possibly stopping by your local store to pick-up some Theraflu (©GSK). We see what you did there, clever marketers.