Astra revamps trade advertising strategy

Pharmaceutical research firm Astra Pharma has initiated a wholesale shift in the way it communicates with healthcare professionals.Gerry McDole, Astra's president and chief executive officer, says the company's new approach focusses on the well-being of the patient and society as a...

Pharmaceutical research firm Astra Pharma has initiated a wholesale shift in the way it communicates with healthcare professionals.

Gerry McDole, Astra’s president and chief executive officer, says the company’s new approach focusses on the well-being of the patient and society as a whole.

A key component of this strategy is the adoption, starting this month, of a new print advertising style it calls the ‘Info-mat.’

According to Astra, Info-mat breaks with tradition by providing more balanced information on prescribing medicines.

The company says that until Info-mat, most pharmaceutical advertising – including its own – highlighted mainly a product’s benefits using arresting visuals.

The Info-mats running in the healthcare press have a consistent graphic look for all products and carry such headings as Ideal Patient Profile, Adverse Reaction and other evaluation information so doctors and others will become accustomed to it.

Ivan Rowley, Astra’s vice-president of marketing, says this means because healthcare professionals can find information about Astra’s products quicker and easier using Info-mat, healthcare costs will be reduced thanks to more effective prescription.

Also, Rowley says the new informational tone of Info-mat will carry over to Astra’s product support materials – direct mail, patient education and continuing health education.

Astra predicts the new approach will reduce its advertising spending in the long term, and, where appropriate, the company will also reduce or stop product advertising once a specific level of awareness has been reached.

Astra, based in Mississauga, Ont., is owned by Sweden’s AB Astra, discoverer of the world’s first local anesthetic now known as Xylocaine.

Astra’s agency is SMW Advertising in Toronto.