Abbott‘s Low Dose HRT brand was launched in the first in the pharmaceutical industry digital marketing only campaign. According to the press release published by PMLive, the campaign for based in Basel, Switzerland, Abbott Established Pharmaceuticals Division (EPD) was the first new-product launch to be delivered solely via a digital channel for the pharma industry. We cannot say whether or not it was really the first digital-only launch in pharma, but we understand that Abbott EPD is satisfied by the results.
Campaign reached to 9,000 doctors who engaged with Abbott’s Low Dose HRT brand via British online professional network Doctors.net.uk. This equates to 45% of the NHS population of obstetricians and gynaecologists, and nearly 23% of GPs. Please note that it is not clear whether those were the specializations of the HCPS who received Abbott’s message.
According to Abbott EPG, the brand’s market share has increased and there has been a continuous month-on-month growth in sales in 2013 as a result of the campaign, which included interactive case studies, clinical paper summaries, and an ask the expert section.
The decision to try a digital only product launch via Doctors.net.uk was made following research conducted by Abbott, which found online professional networks can provide a more effective method of engaging with doctors than traditional sales and marketing channels. They enable them to take a more targeted and measurable approach, and to deliver a mix of promotional and educational messages in a way that really benefits doctors’ clinical practice.
More than three million physicians use professional online networks worldwide and statistics from Doctors.net.uk show that 59% of them visit these channels specifically to update their medical knowledge; while 38% do so to get information on new products.
Abbott is already very active in the digital space, and it co-operated with doctors.net.uk before. 2013 PM Society Digital Media award for the best HCP website was granted for their Femoston Conti Low Dose Microsite made by Doctors.net.uk.
Ajay Mann, Commercial Marketing Manager for Abbott EPD, commented to PMLive:
“The results speak for themselves. The coverage and frequency of the campaign exceed current national call rates by sales reps. What pleases us the most is our increase in market share and continued sales growth. Doctors are coming back to the website, indicating that they find it a valuable resource.”
At K-message we praise courage of Abbott’s digital pioneers. However we doubt some of the claims from the release. In particular, it is hard not to get growth in market share after launch of the product. Even if you sell one dose of the medicine, it will be 100% percent more than nothing. Secondly, we would be very careful with stating a positive impact of sales of any campaign, without a benchmark or a sample. What would happen if Abbott’s launch got traditional detailing instead of digital? Sure the reach of the campaign would be initially smaller and it would reach the target group bit later. After all not every HCP is visited on the regular basis. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee that those approached by field force would not increase sales more than those who only read a website. We could also imagine, that a combination of digital and traditional would be even more efficient. We just do not know, as it is not clear what would happen with a different set of tools.
To summarize: we believe in the efficiency of digital approach. But we would be far of saying it is the only and the best way to launch a product.