The rise of the unbranded drug ad: 5 things to know

Drugmakers are pouring money into an increasingly popular marketing tactic — the unbranded ad. In a less regulated attempt to reach consumers, drug companies create ads that seek to educate the public on a specific health condition, one the company offers a treatment for, reported STAT.

The unbranded ads, which are not required to list any side effects, usually direct patients to a website about the illness that contains promotions for the drugmaker's branded medication.

Here are five things to know about the unbranded ads.

  1. So far, the drug industry has spent $171 million on unbranded ads in 2016, marking a 15 percent increase from the same period last year, according to analyst firm Nielsen. Last year, drugmakers racked up $6 billion in ad spending, most of which was from tradition branded ads.

  2. The most successful unbranded ads occur when the drug advertiser offers the main, or only, treatment for the disease highlighted in the ad.

  1. Amsterdam-based Mylan's allergy awareness ads and New York-based Merck's vaccination ads both earned spots in the top 10 most expensive TV drug ad campaigns last month, according to data from the ad tracking firm

  2. Mylan, the company behind EpiPens, spent almost $15 million on its unbranded ad campaign "Anaphylaxis For Reel," since its launch in April. The 30-second ad features a young woman gasping for breath after accidentally eating peanuts as her friends panic around her. The company also hired Sarah Jessica Parker as an unbranded spokeswoman, although she left her role last week following the controversy surrounding the price of EpiPens.

  1. Some public health analysts worry these unbranded ads will negatively affect patients. "The risks are magnified that misleading information will reach the consumer," said Ameet Sarpatwari, PhD, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "[They] may not be able to attribute that this information is coming from a company with a clear profit motive."

More articles on supply chain:

Mylan to introduce generic EpiPen at half the price
FDA fast tracks experimental drug to treat Parkinson's
Senators ask FDA for EpiPen alternatives: 4 things to know


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