Over the past two weeks, we see two marketing campaigns emerge to market medicines: first, from the branded pharmaceutical association PhRMA, the #GoBoldly initiative with a theme of innovation and personalized medicine.

Second, there’s a campaign from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), rebranding the organization as the Association for Accessible Medicines with the tagline, “keep medicines in reach.”

What’s this all about?

To put these marketing initiatives in context, let’s start with the publication of Express Scripts 2016 Drug Trend Report. “Drug trend” is short-hand for growth in prescription drug spending, year on year. The first graph illustrates the price index growth for specialty drugs that Express Scripts calculated between 2015 and 2016. According to this research, specialty drug prices increased by 208% from 2008 and 2016. In arithmetic terms, that means that a drug priced at $100 in 2008 would now cost $307.86 8 years later.

Note that the Consumer Price Index (inflation for a market basket of goods typically purchased by American consumers) grew to $114.38 from $100 in 2008.

The black line is the Index for generic drugs: showing a decline to $26.27, which underpins the GPhA/AAM’s argument for “accessible medicines.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Consumers are looking for the “A” that was promised by Obamacare: that is, Affordability, for health insurance, health services, and prescription drug costs. See consumers’ healthcare priorities as gleaned by PwC in their assessment of the U.S. national healthcare mood around the 2016 Presidential election.

Consumers’ costs for prescription drugs compete with other household spending, Consumer Reports learned in 2015 (see the bar chart).

To pay for their medications, 38% of people whose drug prices increased in the past year (represented by the darker blue bars) spent less on entertainment and dining out, 31% spent less on groceries, and 25% of people used their credit card more often and spent less on their family.

This is why Consumer Reports concluded that when drug prices go up for consumers, quality of life can go down.

That’s a tough reality for families faced with high drug costs when prescription medicines can save lives. Yes, pharma industry, #GoBoldly: but make products that are accessible to American families. The GPhA brand re-boot is capturing consumers’ feelings about the post-EpiPen drug pricing Zeitgeist.

 

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