Patient Empowerment: Consequences for Pharmaceutical Marketing and for the Patient–Physician Relationship

Part of the International Series in Quantitative Marketing book series (ISQM, volume 20)


Big Pharma’s blockbuster model—which entails developing new drugs for diseases affecting a very large number of patients, promoting it to physicians as the new best-in-class treatment, and profiting from the ensuing volume of sales—is under threat. In the last 2 decades, the largest pharmaceutical firms have lost billions of dollars in shareholder value, due to a combination of factors such as declining R&D productivity, stricter regulatory requirements, more intense generic competition, and an increasingly ineffective marketing model. I review societal, demographic, regulatory, and technological trends and discuss how such trends are contributing to the rise of a new class of empowered patients. I discuss the implications of patient empowerment for the patient–physician relationship and for therapy launch and therapy promotion. Building on real-world evidence, I discuss the benefits and challenges of direct-to-patient marketing strategies such as nurturing partnerships with key patient opinion leaders and direct-to-patient communication via social media. Through a content analysis of the 2005–2010 annual reports of the largest 20 pharmaceutical firms, I show that, despite strict regulatory requirements, several firms have started to embrace patient empowerment as a key component of their marketing models. However, much remains to be done. I propose that now is the right time for pharmaceutical marketers (and scholars) to implement marketing strategies that help empowering patients. In addition, I also discuss the importance of avoiding that patient empowerment results in healthcare consumerism, which could have destructive consequences for patient–physician (and firm–physician) relationships.


Social Medium Insulin Glargine Physician Relationship Patient Empowerment Pharmaceutical Firm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus School of EconomicsErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

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