Is It Time to Rethink the Pharma Brand Website?

Digital now encompasses more channels than ever—and it’s time to challenge the role of a brand’s website. Brands have built one-stop disease and treatment sites since the dawn of the Internet, but is that what is needed these days with authoritative online resources such as Medline and the NIH sites?

Pharma companies should only educate on what they know best—their brands—and get out of disease education unless it relates to treatment with their drug—including specific information about research, compliance and adherence. Sites should point users to authorities: The NIH and the Mayo Clinic. Manhattan Research shows that people visit a drug website after they have the prescription. But most websites include information that’s relevant for people before they get their prescription.

It’s time to refocus the branded website and simplify the experience. Key areas where the brand can stay true to its expertise include:

Drug therapy and managing side effects: Who is better than the drug manufacturer to educate on the best way to take its drug and help people manage on therapy? Most patients receive a written handout from their pharmacist with their prescription. But what if that same information were available online in an easy-to-read format?
Patient education: Include information the brand has the credibility to provide—its products, therapies, outcomes, research, clinical trials, side effects and data
Accessibility of drug therapy: Many treatments are expensive and insurance does not cover all related expenses—an opportunity to highlight programs that help people afford to stay on therapy.

Some marketers might decide the role of their brand website is shrinking to a brand-information resource only, while they use digital and social media to develop a robust content marketing strategy. An example is a brand that has a mobile site with patient education information and useful tools like a pharmacy finder and prescription information; an inspirational Pinterest page; a YouTube channel with testimonials and success stories; a Twitter account for news, updates and customer service; and a Facebook presence for community building, community service announcements and occasional promotions. A Tumblr blog could be used for more community engagement and content marketing, as could a SlideShare channel for patient education, clinical trial information and other content. The role of the website could be a content repository and aggregator of all the ways the customer can engage with the brand.

Time to Support Health Outcomes

For many years, pharma has focused on getting people to take their drugs. Today, the health industry emphasizes outcomes—ensuring that patients stay on therapy—something often missed at the brand website level. Why not direct web resources toward patient support resources and help people stay on the therapy? The industry has discussed adherence/compliance for years, yet we have not seen many successful patient support programs.

Whatever your brand decides, it’s time to reevaluate the status quo and rethink your website as there are valuable budget dollars at stake.

  • Beth Bengtson

    Beth Bengtson, Co-founder and Principal of Hale Advisors, has deep experience in pharmaceutical marketing, digital media and interactive strategic communications. Her focus has been on helping clients evolve their organizations to meet the changing communication needs of their customers.


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