Strategy’s Inaugural Pharma Report

Healthcare marketers are shifting strategies to meet the new pharma reality


Marketing healthcare products used to be such a stable, clear- cut business. Brands could bring their blockbuster products to any agency holding company and be treated like royalty by their pharma specialist agencies. They’d craft doctor-focused campaigns, and the marketing partnership on a patent-protected drug could last for years.

Not so much anymore.

As the pharmaceutical market slides over the so-called “patent cliff,” marketers are seeing competition increase (a situation complicated when Canada changed how it subsidizes prescription drugs, spreading the wealth further afield). Marketers serving the healthcare industry have been subject to the same pressures as their consumer-facing cousins. Budgets are shrinking, and local campaigns fight for investment versus adaptations of global platforms.

One more wrinkle in the market: as consumers armed with research become a bigger force in determining what products they’re prescribed, drug manufacturers are increasingly looking for consumer insights and strategies that differ from their trade-focused efforts in the past. Pharma brands now need trade marketing backed by mass campaigns.

In this challenging environment, brands are turning to agencies who have diversified their talent and expanded their niche focus beyond the old formula.

As “Pharma” specialists evolve and generalist agencies deepen their credentials in the space, here’s a look at some of the players making an impact in the health and wellness market.