Docs trust ED drugs above all, go with their emotions when prescribing

Pfizer, Lilly disclose ED ad schedules
Pfizer, Lilly disclose ED ad schedules
Viagra and Cialis took top honors for most trusted pharmaceutical brands in a poll of physicians.

The Harris Interactive Poll of 759 physicians, including both primary care docs and specialists (psychiatrists, urologists and endocrinologists), looked at four categories – antidepressants, antipsychotics,  ED drugs and diabetes (non-insulin) drugs. Doctors were asked about their prescribing behaviors and about how they regard the brands in terms of familiarity, product and connection, as well as their feelings toward the company and its reps. Those five measures, Harris said, are “highly predictive of prescription intent.”

“We see time and time again that trust bubbles up to the top of the list of things that predict the kind of business outcomes that pharmaceutical companies want to see in their physician relationships,” said Joe Vorrasi, SVP healthcare research at Harris, “things like prescribing intent, willingness to forgive a mistake or go out of your way for a product, pay a premium, recommend or endorse, try a line extension, give the benefit of the doubt, that sort of thing.”

Trusted products, said Vorrasi, “are well-intended, unique, unbiased, credible, service-oriented, innovative, responsive.” Harris found a surprising relationship between a physician's emotional connection to a brand and their prescribing behaviors. 

“Physicians aren't perhaps as clinical as some would like to think in what products they trust and which they don't,” said Vorrasi. “There are product-based attributes, familiarity and the functional attributes of the product – whether it offers a unique benefit or excellent outcomes or consistent results. But there's also this emotional connection piece, being able to identify with the product, feeling positive about it, feeling inspired by it, believing that it brings great value to your practice. We like to think physicians make more formulaic decisions, but in reality, docs are people too, and there's both the rational and the emotional elements coming together.”

Perceptions of companies and reps counted too, but less than the product and emotional elements, said Vorrasi. 

Of the non-insulin diabetes products, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Glucophage XR was the most-trusted owing to its familiarity, reliability and consistency, followed by Merck's Januvia for its strong service and support programs. Forest's Lexapro was tops among antidepressants for its reliability and consistency, followed by Lilly's Cymbalta, which won high marks for service and support along with unique therapeutic benefits. BMS's Abilify was Number One for trust among antipsychotics, owing to unique benefits, bringing value to physicians' practices, having a patient focus and corporate accountability. AstraZeneca's Seroquel was next among antipsychotics for familiarity, thought leadership, consistency and strong outcomes, said Harris.