With stay-at-home conditions in effect across most of the country, pharmaceutical marketers are trying to decide how to best manage their marketing investments—should they pull back DTC marketing efforts? Is there a benefit to maintaining current media spend? How should they reach healthcare professionals (HCPs) without field force visits? These are valid considerations during a time when going to the doctor has become a challenging endeavor. Crossix has leveraged the Crossix Data Platform to assess how current restrictions on public life have impacted health behaviors.
Consumer Health Behavior – Drop in HCP Visits, Plus Initial Rx Stockpiling has Leveled Off
As of April 1, there has been a 56% decrease in overall doctor visits compared to the number of visitations in February 2020.1 But technology is starting to fill the gap. The percentage of those visits happening remotely (via telehealth) has gone from negligible volumes to 28.1% of HCP visits since mid-March.2
Additionally, there was an increase in overall prescriptions filled just before the start of social distancing—mid-March volumes were up 10% compared to peaks in early February. By the end of the month, however, rates leveled off.3 As of April 7, 90-day prescriptions4 remain relatively static, accounting for 22.1% of all prescriptions, and mail-order prescriptions are not seeing a sustained increase, despite a 2% bump in mid-March that has since leveled out.5
These findings indicate that patients seem to be filling prescriptions at pre-COVID-19 rates, despite a substantial dropoff in doctor visits.
Changes in Marketing Investments
Are life sciences brands adjusting their marketing based on changes in health behavior? Approximately 22% of brands that work with Crossix have informed us that they are scaling back or pausing their media investments. These brands are primarily those for treatments requiring in-office administration.
On the digital side, these changes have led to a 24.8% decrease6 in overall digital advertising impressions currently measured in Crossix DIFA™. The most significant decreases were seen in programmatic and lifestyle media placements, with endemic media generating similar impression levels month-over-month.
Across other industries, such as automotive, travel and entertainment, advertising cuts are steep. According to a recent IAB survey, “70% of buyers have already adjusted or paused their planned ad spend, while 16% are still determining what actions to take.” For pharmaceutical marketers who choose to maintain their advertising presence, this could represent a media opportunity, as available inventory increases and media costs decrease.
On the other side of the house, HCP marketers are facing the challenge of communicating with physicians without the ability to visit them in person. Applications like Veeva’s Engage Meeting have allowed rep engagement to continue, and digital rep interactions are up tenfold. However, marketers are considering new ways to supplement that engagement. Many have begun looking to DTC investments as a way to continue communicating with HCPs who are not actively involved in critical or emergency room care. In a recent blog post, Crossix shared how a DTC linear TV ad campaign impacted HCP behavior. The ad drove a 23% increase in new-to-brand prescriptions among patients of exposed HCPs, validating that DTC tactics can be an effective way to both reach and influence physicians.
No treatment—or campaign—is one size fits all. There are many factors that go into making marketing decisions, and Crossix is committed to providing the necessary analytics to measure and optimize the value of media investments now and in the future. We will continue to monitor and update these trends as the situation continues. Contact Crossix if you have specific questions about how the shifting landscape is changing pharmaceutical marketing.
1 Overall doctor visits have decreased 56% in March compared to the average number of visitations in February as of April 1. Source: Crossix Patient, April 2020.
2 Telehealth visits were near 0% until March 12, when they steadily increased to 28% as of April 1. Source: Crossix Patient, April 2020.
3 Total TRx volumes increased 10% from March 15-24, and the 7-day moving average (as of April 7) is only 6.4% lower than weeks prior to March 15 (this average does not include any of the stockpiling period), Source: Crossix Patient, April 2020.
4 The rate of 90-day prescriptions has fluctuated between 18%-28% since February 1, with an average of 21.4%, Source: Crossix Patient, April 2020.
5 Mail-order prescriptions began to climb after March 8 (9.6% average from February 7-March 8) and peaked at 12%. It has since declined and is trending toward pre-COVID-19 rates. Source: Crossix Patient, April 2020.
6 Crossix DIFA shows a 25% decrease in impressions compared to the average daily impressions before March 30. Source: Crossix DIFA, April 2020