FiercePharma | Beth Snyder Bulik
Consumers don’t always read the risk information on branded drug websites--even though they say they do, according to new eye-tracking research from the University of Tennessee. Risk disclosures are a hot-button issue in pharma marketing, with some critics accusing brands of downplaying the risks and marketers contending that they follow the rules laid out by the FDA.
For the eye-tracking study, two advertising professors used the technique on 29 seasonal allergy sufferers to determine where and how long they looked at a branded drug website, then followed up with interviews about how much the people read and what they remembered. The participants were told the study was looking at how people look for health information online and that the website was for a new prescription allergy drug.
The key finding? Even though 80% of the participants said they read half or more of the website information, they actually read much less than that and had limited recall of the drug’s risks. Further, the study found consumers focused on the drug’s benefit and generally ignored the risks.
That figure wouldn't necessarily hold true for other drugs, though. Mariea Hoy, who fielded the research along with former UT faculty member Abbey Levenshus, said perceived familiarity in the case of the seasonal allergy drug may have played a role in participants ignoring risks they thought they already knew about or didn’t believe would affect them.