Money matters: the health pay gap
April 2nd was Equal Pay Day in the U.S. – the day that marks how long into 2019 women would have to work to “catch up” to what their male peers already earned in 2018.
How this impacts healthcare:
One more thing: Equal pay day comes much later in the year for many women. Here’s a helpful breakdown.
This can't be legal, can it?
With help from: Legal comms expert, Amanda Eiber.
What do anxiety, hair loss, erectile dysfunction, low libido and migraines all have in common?
They’re all conditions for which patients can now access prescription therapies online – through a new crop of websites that markets drugs directly to consumers. Instead of going into a doctor’s office, patients are filtered through “prescribing algorithms” and connected to physicians affiliated with the sites who can write a script remotely.
The potential appeal for patients is clear: There’s no doctor consultation in which you have to discuss potentially embarrassing conditions face-to-face, the medication is delivered to your door, it likely costs less, and is just overall easier to get.
And their marketing is pretty consumer-friendly:
Confused about how this is legal? So were we.
- A lot of these drugs are being prescribed “off-label,” for a condition different from that for which they were approved. For example, Roman markets sertraline (generic Zoloft) for premature ejaculation. Another site – Hers – touts a drug’s ability to help “manifest your badassery,” giving rise to questions about compliance with fair balance requirements that inform patients (a.k.a. customers) of a drug’s risk.
- The loophole? These companies define themselves to as “tech companies,” not healthcare providers, and are simply providing access to physicians who can prescribe drugs as they deem appropriate. As such, companies like Kick attest that “federal marketing restrictions on drugmakers do not apply.” Hmm…
- There is no one federal or state agency that regulates online prescription drug services. Instead, telehealth is governed by a patchwork of state laws. Coverage depends on a user’s location, and the prescribing physician must be licensed in the patient’s state.
What can the drug industry learn from these companies?
While a week of top-tier coverage may have nudged regulators to look into these companies, there’s no current roadmap for investigation or new regulations. So instead of waiting for regulatory action, drugmakers should recognize both the benefits and risks of these new approaches to patient marketing.
There’s something to be learned from these companies’ direct-to-patient content and branding – particularly for companies working in large, chronic conditions. While some of their claims wouldn’t pass muster in a medical/legal/regulatory process, pharma could benefit from a dose of “consumer speak.”
Drugmakers should also consider how they can better meet a clear patient desire for easier, more affordable access, while maintaining critical safety controls.
Who wrote this? The managing editors of TWTW are Dana Davis, who has been craving Goldfish all week, and Randi Kahn, who checked out the cafeteria of the new Syneos Health HQ this week.
Syneos Health Communications' Reputation & Risk Management Practice is a team of healthcare communications consultants, policy-shapers and crisis response specialists. We provide unique solutions to the evolving communications challenges in today’s healthcare industry, using evidence-based approaches to help our clients successfully navigate the most sensitive of situations.
Got thoughts? Contact Dana
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