Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Ills of Elderly Generate Ad Boom / in Health Care Promotion

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Ills of Elderly Generate Ad Boom / in Health Care Promotion

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - The aging of the population is a boon to the advertising agencies that specialize in health care promotion, especially those that have set up consumer advertising divisions.

Here is the way William B. Gibson, chairman and chief executive of Sudler & Hennessey, explained it recently: In days gone by, the big pharmaceutical companies for which his agency works generally specialized in certain diseases and let other companies specialize in others, staying out of each other's way.

Now, because of the larger market, and certainly the big money involved, the companies are focusing on the chronic diseases of the aging. When there are many products for the same problems, more advertising to physicians is required to create a perception of product differences. Happiness at the agencies results.

The trend toward self-medication, especially among the elderly, also benefits the agencies that have been assigned products that were formerly ethical pharmaceuticals sold only by prescription and are now sold over the counter. Agencies that are prepared to take the consumer advertising frequently get that assignment as well.

And even after a medication is converted to over-the-counter status with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration, many pharmaceutical companies continue to advertise it to the physician.

That is because the product is no longer being promoted by the pharmaceutical companies' traveling salespeople, and the company needs new advertising to the physicians to keep that important mandate.

``Usually they try to keep advertising to the doctors because they don't want to abandon what they've built,'' Gibson said. At another point he noted that the sales representative is ``the driving force of prescription drugs,'' while ``the driving force of consumer goods is television.''

The Food and Drug Administration, he said, makes its judgment on which drugs can be dropped from the ethical category by seeing if they are for a condition that can be self-diagnosed and if the drugs cannot be abused. …

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