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Merck to diversify its DTC marketing

Published on 29/11/06 at 03:05pm

Merck is to spend less money on consumer television advertising in the future and increase its use of targeted media,such as the internet, to maximise its US marketing budget.

The decision follows an evaluation of its sales and marketing efforts that highlighted the need to better understand patients and how to reach them more effectively.

Peter Loescher, president of global human health at Merck, said that changes in the pattern of television viewing in the US and the rise of more cost-effective marketing methods could demand changes in the company's efforts.

"The new model will also move away from a broad broadcast DTC approach in its classical sense. It has to. Because as a consumer we're sitting in front of our TV, and we're switching all the time," he told the Financial Times.

Merck is running a number of pilot programmes for drugs, including its new diabetes treatment Januvia and cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, to evaluate the different methods of reaching patients such as via internet communities.

One such community website is iVillage, which is aimed at women.It is already used by a number of healthcare companies, including Abbott, which advertises its rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira on the site.

Mr Loescher said Merck's experiments to move its marketing away from television advertising would continue as the company tried to understand its target audience.

The company's new One Less campaign for Gardasil, which was approved in the US in June, will include online as well as television and print elements.

The campaign encourages women and girls, who are eligible for the vaccine, to begin their vaccination courses; i.e. to be 'one less' person who has to battle cervical cancer.

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