Famous Last Words: Big News for Direct Marketers?
The idea of the medical community throwing detail people out on the street offers a gorgeous opportunity for the direct marketing community. Yes, the pharmies will continue to reach consumers via their clever TV spots and magazine ads (with two pages of mousetype, san serif disclaimers for every one page of advertising). But with no traveling army of detail people combined with Can Spam and do-not-call laws, the only way they can talk in great detail to the individual doctor on a one-to-one basis is (Yessss!) through direct mail.
Get this: The national consumer health organization Families USA released a report titled “Profiting From Pain: Where Prescription Drug Dollars Go.” The conclusion, as reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer article:
The nine publicly traded U.S. drug companies, which manufacture 50 of the drugs most often prescribed to seniors, spent $45.4 billion on marketing and advertising in 2001 and only $19.1 billion on research and development.
That’s $45.4 BILLION on advertising and marketing!
So how do we make this happen? We persuade the DMA to start Ban the Detailers—a 501(c)(3) organization with a twofold mission: (1) to shame the medical profession into no longer accepting these outrageous bribes from the pharmies, and (2) to lobby congress into outlawing detail people, citing their ipso-facto conflict of interest (drug profits vs. patients’ welfare). Once the detail people are out of the way, direct mailers have the monopoly on reaching doctors and can start tapping into that juicy $45.4 billion. Yum, yum.
Alas, no doubt physicians nationwide would fight to the death their right to hear about new drugs first hand (and collect all that boodle—especially since their income is so diminished because of reduced Medicare and insurance payments and the wallet-busting cost of malpractice premiums).
My guess is that an honest doctor is like an honest politician these days: Once he’s been bought he stays bought.