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Medicare Price Negotiations Mean Big Shakeups for Pharma Marketers

Authored and contributed to PharmaLeaders by: By: Dhruv Suyamprakasam, CEO and founder of iCliniq

The recent unveiling of the Biden administration’s plan to reduce drug spending was not met with enthusiasm from the pharmaceutical industry. Medicare price negotiations will likely see pharma marketers face increasing pressure as to how to best use their budgets. 2022 proved to be a challenging year for advertisers, with marketing budgets sliding by nearly 10%. According to recent Vivixx data, pharma companies “forked out just under $8.1 billion last year on ad campaigns,” a figure that MM&M reports is “a long way off from pre-pandemic times of 2019, when the average budget reached a peak of $12.5 million.”

With anticipated pricing pressure and an aging population, drug companies might spend more on research to create unique medications. Even in a regulated pricing system, these innovative drugs can command higher prices due to their special benefits. And any change in drug prices means that pharma marketers will need to reinvent their strategies – they will be tasked with showing value beyond prices, using data to make better decisions, and finding new ways to connect with audiences.

Let’s explore how marketers can meet the demands of a rapidly shifting pharma climate, and evolve beyond the one-size-fits-all approach to pharma marketing.

Data-Driven Decision Making Drives Value

In today’s fast-changing pharma landscape, that one-size-fits-all marketing approach has become antiquated. Pharma companies that shift their focus to what payers, patients, and providers are asking for will come out on top.

Pharma marketers will need to direct their marketing efforts toward investing in relationship-driven, specialized marketing channels that are targeted to reach the right patients. Contextual and data-driven targeting can help in achieving this goal. When it comes to strict regulations surrounding pharma advertisements and rising consumer privacy concerns, privacy-first solutions like contextual targeting help marketers target consumers with less compliance risk. Since contextual targeting hones in on content, not individual users, there is a reduced risk of privacy concern for pharma companies. Contextual targeting can even narrow down the precise time of day to reach consumers, making effective use of marketing budgets and improved metrics.

When patients opt-into pharmaceutical loyalty programs or receive prescription deliveries, marketers are able to learn what consumers prefer to see when it comes to their online healthcare journeys. By investing in precision marketing, pharma advertisers marketers can deliver improved reach and precise ad placement, all while agreeing to a privacy-first line of action.

Personalized, Omnichannel Approach 

The shifting trend toward integrated health management and outcomes-based approach to healthcare has resulted in pharma advertisers increasingly taking an omnichannel approach, with the fastest growth attributed to the digital landscape. Digital marketing channels like social media and influencer collaborations can ensure advertisers’ messages are seen and heard by the right people.

In order to meet the increasing reliance on social media, drug advertisers need to adopt a much more holistic approach to marketing. They can do this by choosing to study the ethical, economic, and societal impacts, rather than the traditional approach of outlining the positive and negative side effects of taking the drug. By leveraging these insights in ways that will meet targeted groups of consumers that are aligned with these values, marketers can customize their advertising approach tremendously.

In addition to social marketing, other technologies in an omnichannel strategy that are improving patient outcomes include virtual care, wearables, technologies that send reminders about appointments and treatments, and digital ingestion tracking systems that monitor when medications are taken via ingestible sensors. The rapid increase in these tools can allow pharma companies to sustain the kind of loyal engagement often seen in other consumer goods industries.

Pharma Marketing in the Age of AI 

Last but definitely not least, the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in the pharma sector is just beginning. This year, nearly every industry professional has witnessed the enormous benefits that AI can offer, and enhanced marketing strategies pharma marketers that are using AI are no exception.

As a simple example, video production is often used by pharma marketers to get their message across. The high costs and labor that often go into making that video, from script-writing to editing, can now be accomplished with generative AI in weeks rather than months. As another example, generative AI has the capability to greatly speed up marketing software development cycles, from unity testing to deployment. This allows companies to roll out new marketing content much quicker without jeopardizing getting flagged by the FDA. For example, EY introduced a technology last year called “Smart Reviewer” that automates the Medical, Legal, and Regulatory (MLR) review process.

The recent example in Medicare price negotiations is just one of the many instances we’re already seeing of how the ever-evolving pharma ecosystem will continue to demand new, advanced and innovative marketing solutions. More ongoing healthcare industry trends, such as the Ozempic weight loss craze and the increasing reliance on AI, are just further proof that pharma marketers are on the verge of a major paradigm shift. In order for pharma marketers to usher in the new era, they need to enhance patient engagement, especially as consumers are becoming more aware of their health and are independently seeking out holistic outcomes. Marketers need to expand their offerings, implementing contextual targeting and using the appropriate channels to reach the right patients.

About Dhruv Suyamprakasam

Dhruv Suyamprakasam is the Founder, CEO and director of iCliniq.com. Dhruv has a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the prestigious College of Engineering in Guindy. Dhruv is a new age entrepreneur who is also passionate about creating an ecosystem for the growth and development of startup companies. As an entrepreneur, Dhruv has worked tirelessly to build the category of online doctor consultations and grow the business. Dhruv was a part of the “Spring 2019 cohort of Nasdaq Milestone Makers” program. Upon successful completion of iCliniq’s milestones, Dhruv’s photo along with iCliniq’s logo was displayed on the Nasdaq building in Times Square.

About iCliniq

Since 2012, iCliniq has been a leading global provider of virtual healthcare resources featuring a deep library of original medical content. Its virtual online medical service provides convenient, premier health care to more than 190 countries. iCliniq’s doctor panel consists of more than 3,500 highly-qualified doctors from 80+ specialties in the U.S., U.K., UAE, India, Singapore and Germany. The platform also just rolled out an expanded version of iCliniq Engage; its suite of contextual advertising engagement solutions for pharmaceutical and medical advertisers. iCliniq Engage’s telehealth advertising solutions enable pharmaceutical companies a precise way to target display and video ads on more than 50,000 pieces of original, medically reviewed, high-intent, contextually relevant health content pieces to reach its highly-engaged audience.

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