Pharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2011 - (Page 14)

Brand Marketing Communications With Coupons, Pharma is Saying ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ to Consumers < continued from page 1 Coupon programs are even figuring in pharma companies’ Wall Street presentations: during J&J’s quarterly conference call in October, CFO Dominic Caruso told analysts that, in order to recover lost market share from its recent product recalls and competition from private-label OTC products, “our marketers are very good at knowing what they need to do to attract consumers [with] a mix of brand marketing and expenses, couponing, innovation, etc.—a surround-sound impact to get consumers back,” according to Bloomberg News. Paul Kandle, VP and GM of Opus Health, a division of Cegedim Relationship Management (Bedminster, NJ). Opus was one of the first companies to capitalize on the “secondary adjudication” steps that were put into claims-processing systems at pharmacies, once a copay had to be linked not only with a specific health plan, but also with the identity of the drug being prescribed. Since then, it has run over 1,000 programs for manufacturers, and says that it has 250 programs currently. “These claims-processing systems allow manufacturers to overcome two obstacles to patient assistance: the complexity and difficulty of getting samples into the hands of patients after a prescription has been written, and the ability to provide a refund at the point of sale, rather than taking actions like mailing a coupon and receipt into a fulfillment center.” Vouchers (which figure primarily in getting free samples dispensed) enable the prescription to be filled at the pharmacy—and to be documented in the claims processing system—as opposed to being handed out by the physician; however, Kandle notes that there is still a perceived value by physicians in being able to hand out a sample directly. On the copay side, the original need was to ensure that the pharmacist “would be made whole” financially if a discount on a copay were transacted; the secondary adjudication ensures that that happens. As these details were worked out, the overall economics of running coupon and voucher programs became more positive. “Manufacturers always had pressure to reduce costs overall, but the pressure’s much greater today,” says David Merkel, senior vice president of business solutions for J. Knipper and Co. (, Lakewood, NJ-based multi-channel marketing services firm. “Rightly or wrongly, pharmaceutical companies have been painted as the bad guys…and are being expected to absorb much of the costs.” Beyond sampling Free-trial vouchers, started as an alternative sampling vehicle to help contain those 14 November | December 2011 costs, says Merkel, “but have led to other components from direct mail to longer-term vehicles to promote patient persistency with other forms of patient co-pay assistance.” And yet physician sampling programs are still a starting point for patient outreach, with 85% of manufacturers distributing trial samples directly to physicians through their sales reps or via direct-to-practitioner (DTP), according to a survey report presented in September by TGaS Advisors (www.tgas. com), and the PDMA Alliance (www. at September’s PDMA Sharing Conference in San Antonio. Kevin Sharp, director with TGaS, says trial vouchers are “generally utilized to address ‘white space’ concerns and facilities that do not sampled – primarily drug-makers sampleaccountability and PDMA compliance professionals – are also exploring other options at high levels: 90% of respondents use coupons; 76% use vouchers; 24% use a prepaid card; and 17% offer co-pay assistance. The most confusing aspect of analyzing these results is trying to discern the definitions of these vehicles – something that won’t soon be answered. “There aren’t any consistent definitions across the board for coupons, vouchers, pre-paid cards and co-pay cards,” Sharp concedes. As a result, the survey listed those promotional options and asked respondents to check which method they used. On on end of the spectrum are one-time free trials; Figure 1: Total Pills Purchased Over a Six Month Observation Multi-use program patients purchased 61% more pills over a six month observation period, while limited-use savings card program patients purchased 28% more pills than the control group. CREDIT: IMS receive physical samples. These particular channels have seen growth as pharmaceutical companies have changed the structure and size of their sales forces.” Still, with the downturn in the economy and years of pharmaceutical mergers, prescription drug manufacturers are “looking for ways to do more with less. And because there are fewer reps out there, there’s less sampling going on than in the past,” says John Khantzian, senior principal, LifeLink Solutions, IMS Health (, Danbury, CT. “And where that sampling that does still exist, it’s being done based on priorities developed through physician and patient segmentation analyses.” So, for example, if there’s a managed care influence in a certain area, the manufacturer may modify their sampling tactics based on its formulary status. This helps to ensure that the physician will have its drugs on hand in the sample closet to provide until the patient fills an initial prescription. While hand-delivered samples still dominate according to the TGaS study, those on the other are longer-term co-pay-assist card programs that foster loyalty. Given these parameters, it may be possible to discern what promotional vehicle works best for the drug maker-marketer. IMS studied the success of three kinds of patient card programs for one branded pharma company’s (unnamed) chronic therapy for which there were a mix of branded and generic alternatives, with generics representing a significant percentage of market TRx (prescriptions written) volume: • A multi-use co-pay card for use with multiple prescription fills per year, with a guaranteed maximum level of co-pay or patient out of pocket expense; • A limited-use savings card program that guaranteed lower patient out of pocket costs to a fixed dollar amount and • A free-trial voucher program for one free prescription fill. The objectives of the three programs were to increase the flow of new-to-brand patients and drive brand loyalty. Patients selected were new to the brand, either newly diagnosed or switched from other medications) The result? Multi-use program patients purchased 61% more pills over a six month observation period, while limited-use savings card program patients purchased 28% more pills than the control group. Interestingly, the free-trial voucher program resulted in lower sales than the control program. The drug may have carried unwanted side effects, but such speculation fell outside of the research, says Greg Mastrogiovanni, engagement manager, Commercial Services, IMS Health. He avoids such speculation, offering that this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, and that “a good percentage of patients try the product once because its free but never convert to paid therapy.” Beyond that, he didn’t speculate on why those who tried the free trial didn’t continue on the drug as often as the control group. Such studies provide very useful data through the identification number printed on each voucher or card, which upon redemption is run through an anonymized, HIPAA-compliant patient-level database, explains Khantzian, providing data on “patient XYZ123… which tells us they used a coupon, voucher or co-pay card. That’s what allows us to create test groups and control groups to the measure adherence, compliance etc., of patients who get the card versus those who don’t. This way, a pharma company can evaluate the results of two different promotions for effectiveness and ROI.” While pharma companies factor in costs, and ROI in promotional vehicles remain confidential to the brand, “The measurements around them – how they’re distributed and the ancillary materials – can be so remarkably, incredibly different,” says Tom Foley, director of business development for RxHope, one of the integrated multi-channel sampling and marketing companies of Triplefin (www., Cincinnati, OH. He says no “one size fits all” strategy can be applied to define a media mix or ROI; an osteoporosis drug for elderly women won’t use the same mix of tools and media as an erectile dysfunction drug; likewise, how a co-pay card or free trial will work depends on the drug, the patient population and when and how it’s deployed in the lifecycle. Ned Finn, VP pharmacy at Inmar Corp. (, Winston-Salem, NC), notes that coupon programs vary not only by therapeutic area, but also by the healthcare objective. “To drive better patient adherence, it may make sense to provide coupons to reduce copay for patients that have proven adherent to therapy. This can have a huge impact on patient clinical outcomes. If the goal is to cross-promote, there are opportunities to use coupons to promote OTC therapies or foods that address the side effects experienced by patients taking prescription drugs for specific health conditions. For example, an online coupon for moisturizers could be offered to someone searching for information on ways continued on page 28>

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2011

Pharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2011
Top News
Brand Marketing & Communications
Supply Chain/Logistics
Information Technology
Manufacturing & Packaging
Legal & Regulatory
Meetings and Editorial Index

Pharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2011