August 6, 2007
Patients Asking for Drugs By Their Brand Name: Naming Companies Rejoice
The Los Angeles Times has been running a series of stories on how savvy marketers are helping to build brand name drugs in patients' minds, often enabling the patient to suggest the drugs he or she wants at a medical consultation.
The so-called sanctuary in which a doctor prescribes a drug to a sick patient has been breached thanks to marketers who are getting to the patients first... in 2006 they spent a cool $5 billion advertising drugs to us.
Fact is, according to the follow-up piece, the marketing work and patients and doctors alike are affected by it, even when they think they are not (doctors often mistakenly feel they are above mundane things like brand name marketing, despite the fact that they tend to like the same expensive cars, soft drinks and gold clubs as the rest of us mortals).
Last week John Russell of the Indianapolis Star noted that brand name drugs are the "new stars of TV," with characters routinely mentioning certain brand names: Tony Soprano takes Prozac, Doctors on ER shout for ReoPro and when a character is feeling amorous on 30 Rock, he takes Ciallis, an erectile dysfunction drug made by Lilly... as are the preceding drugs.
The drug industry is not completely happy with all this: the jokes about Botox and Viagra and Xanax obviously do not help their brand name equity.
But at the end of the day, new drug names are designed to be memorable: InNexus' new drug is the DXL 625, which the Arizona Central says "sounds like the name of a luxury car."
We are an aging nation that fills more and more prescriptions yearly... and the more brand name drugs we have at our fingertips, the better.
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