Pharma marketing is not the land of the free. Regulations and ethical principles ought to be followed. After all, they are a way to guarantee the safety of the end-user of your products and services. To ensure the success and effectiveness of your marketing efforts, you must comply with ethics and regulations.
With this in mind, we have gathered for you a list of the top pharma ethics and regulations you should keep in mind in your day-to-day activities!
Top pharma ethics and regulations
1 – Over-the-counter versus prescription drugs – Transparency
Prescription drugs and over-the-counter products are distinct in both their access and risks. Thus, they need advertising on different levels and in different ways, with transparency as a guaranteed principle.
Prescription drug advertising is governed by the FDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) and by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In some states, there might also be an intervention from the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). There are further guidance documents about prescription drug advertising. They aim at monitoring the activity and compliance with truthfulness and transparency principles.
In the US, prescription drug advertising is allowed. Nonetheless, it is required that all ads include:
- Brief summary of side effects;
- Reference on the contraindications; and
- Effectiveness of the product.
Non-prescription drugs, also known as over-the-counter (OTC), do not need FDA approval. These are monitored through regulatory monographs that sanction a specific set of ingredients, claims, and guidelines. Advertising of OTCs is largely under the responsibility of the FTC.
OTC advertising should not:
- Mislead the consumer towards an untruthful conception of the product;
- Provide deceptive conclusions on the product’s effectiveness; and
- Omit important information that might be important to the consumers’ health and safety.
Despite some differences in regulation, both prescription and OTC drug advertisements should not provide misleading information to the public nor target specifically underage audiences.
2 – Education over marketing
When transparency becomes a guiding compass in pharma marketing practices, education becomes a vital ethical principle. The consumer must have access to truthful information. That is only possible if you translate jargon into accessible, educational content.
As ethics and regulations settled in, and pharmaceutical companies became accountable for their actions, a new technique in marketing arose.
“The new technique is less about marketing and more about informing.” – Simon Says’ article
Present-day American patients are active participants in their healthcare journey. After all, they come from a digital era of available information. So they expect their HCP to be up to date with the latest innovations in the field.
But they also seek their own, health-related information that can aid them in choosing the right brands and products. And the Internet plays a crucial role in it. Google has disclosed in the past few years that at least 5% of its searches are health-related.
When thinking of educating your target audience, you ought to think about where patients and physicians spend most of their time. And that is on digital platforms. Then, move on to consider the different channels and tools you might include in your strategy.
Video marketing is a growing trend in the pharmaceutical industry. It has proven to be effective in increasing HCP and patient engagement, especially through explainer videos – animated sequences that translate your complex data into easy-to-understand content that informs and engages your audience.
3 – Responsive
Part of educating your audience and complying with the ethical principles of transparency is being responsive. Circumstances change, and one day a product is marketable, the next it might not be due to new research and findings in the field.
As a pharma marketer, you must work closely with the medical teams. That way, you can always be in the loop of all the latest data and insights into the product or service you are selling.
Most importantly, be ready to pull up an ongoing campaign if new research sheds light on your product that might compromise the consumers’ safety. This is pivotal to maintaining transparency and trust in your brand as a synonym of expertise and quality.