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Cancer Therapy Products Dominate Advertising Pages of Professional Health Journals

By Mia Burns

In the first half of this year, advertisers in professional health journals purchased about 45,829 total pages, according to Kantar Media Healthcare Research. Total print advertising dollars in professional health journals reached more than $288 million through the first two quarters of 2013. Cancer therapy is the top drug class in advertising by both pages and dollars, with $23 million advertising in professional health journals. In addition, the class held the top spot at the mid-year point in both 2012 and 2011. The diabetes oral category has made a huge jump since 2012, when it was ranked 21st through the second quarter. Anticoagulants have made a modest 18 percent increase.

Regarding pharma companies, Johnson & Johnson has maintained its spot at the top pharma company advertising in professional health journals by dollars. The company spent $20 million advertising in professional health journals through the second quarter of this year. Johnson & Johnson comprises about 7 percent of the total advertising share compared to Forest Laboratories, which is about 3 percent. Novartis moved up one spot this month to fourth place, and in effect, switched places with the Ironwood Pharmaceutical and Forest Pharmaceuticals partnership.

“The increase in media spend within oncology is an indicator of how active this field is with introducing new, innovative products,” Jennifer Oleski VP, account director, GSW told Med Ad News Daily. “As more products enter the market, they will continue to compete for valuable share of voice and mind space. That clearly represents an exciting opportunity for an advertising agency to help clients achieve their business goals.”

Melissa Sturno, SVP, Account Services at Saatchi & Saatchi Health Communications, a Publicis Healthcare Communications Group agency, says, “We are always excited to work in oncology because we believe in the substantial human benefit these brands deliver. The study results support our continued interest in and commitment to the oncology community given the powerful effect oncology products have on patients and caregivers. As a result, we continue to focus on expanding our oncology portfolio as it has been a critical priority for our agency for many, many years. More than a decade ago, pharmaceutical companies elevated oncology in their portfolios and moved in the direction of biopharma. We have stayed in step with their focus and continue to align with the market opportunity in oncology.”

Neither Oleski nor Sturno found the study results exceptionally surprising. “Overall, the increase in media spend is not surprising because of the changing dynamics within oncology – new products entering the market, innovations in treating some of the more complex tumor types, environmental factors impacting the cost of care, and additional guidelines regulating the interactions between pharma and healthcare providers,” Oleski told Med Ad News Daily.  “All of these factors have created a need for more information yet less access to it. The question for many brand managers will be how to determine the ROI on their media spend vs. the other non-personal channels that may afford them the opportunity to provide deeper brand engagement.”

“Given the significant challenges in reaching physicians these days and the increasing number of approved oncology products, the trend is not particularly surprising,” Sturno says. “While the trend is towards digital media, there is still a considerable amount of consumption of print media. Clients have come to appreciate that print media continues to be relevant in the overall media mix, but are appropriately emphasizing the development of informative content regardless of where or how it is distributed.”

Oleski told Med Ad News Daily, “The challenges to get brand messaging in front of customers are increasing as the burden of running a successful practice and the increasing restrictions on sales force access are limiting the opportunities to truly break through the clutter. As such, I have seen an increased focus in non-personal channels, including media, to augment the activities of more traditional face-to-face interactions.”

On the client front, Saatchi & Saatchi Health Communications has witnessed considerable interest in finding solutions to adapt to the changes in the marketplace from increased competition, to more patient engagement to reduced access to physicians, according to Sturno. “While we haven't seen a direct increase in print advertising, we have seen a keener interest in non-personal promotion and a diverse media mix,” she says.

Posted: August 2013


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