How to Avoid Ethical Pitfalls in Healthcare Marketing
Healthcare marketing practices are poles apart from other sectors due to the regulations in the industry that are tightly controlled and regulated by the government and medical boards. These are done to avoid malpractices and to set moral guidelines for promoting healthcare brands and hospitals ethically for a patient-centric approach over a product-centric one.
By utilizing the extensive range of traditional, digital marketing and advertising platforms accessible today, healthcare businesses can promote themselves where their target audience is present. Although, with the ease of accessibility that digital channels have opened up, the need for ethically reaching and engaging doctors becomes all the more important to rise above the chaos and share evidence-based, credible information.
Who do these guidelines apply to?
The UCPMP code applies to pharmaceutical companies, medical representatives, agents of pharmaceutical companies (such as distributors, wholesalers, retailers), and pharmaceutical manufacturer’s associations. Learn about the 6 key protocols that the UCPMP code outlines.
AdvaMed code on the other hand, applies to medical device companies particularly. Whereas, the GDPR directive guides all companies at large for conducting compliant marketing practices, read more about GDPR here.
Risks & impact of unethical marketing practices in healthcare:
- Patient harm:
Unethical marketing can have a serious impact on the patients’ health and wellness due to existing medical history and mixing dosages with other drugs that they consume. To avoid malpractices, misinformation on the product benefits, side-effects, dosage frequency etc.
Government levies fines on breach of consumer protection laws. This can burn a hole in your business and put your brand in negative light.
- Brand image & loss of credibility:
Once a brand gets penalized for malpractices, it also attracts bad publicity affecting your brand’s image in the minds of medical fraternity and word-of-mouth communication among peers.
- To give you a real-world scenario: A leading drug brand got penalized recently by the Federation of Medical & Sales Representatives Association of India.
- The reasons: For giving freebies to doctors as incentive to prescribe their drugs. Such a practice goes against the statutory guidelines set under the Uniform Code for Pharma Marketing Practices (UCPMP).