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The 1st Canadian Pharma Ad on FaceBook?

A brave Canadian pharmaceutical company has taken the plunge and is giving FaceBook direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising a try. King Pharmaceuticals has been promoting its EpiPen.ca website via the following English and French FaceBook ads:

The call-to-action is to take the allergy risk test, but it appears as though the main objective of the site itself is to introduce the new EpiPen and EpiPen Jr (0.3 and 0.15 mg epinephrine) Auto-injectors (“EpiPen”) to Canadian consumers and healthcare professionals.  Both the FaceBook ads and the site are DTC advertising.

Although King Pharmaceuticals launched the new EpiPen and EpiPen Jr Auto-Injectors on April 14 2010, I first noticed the FaceBook ad on Monday May 10th 2010.  Of course, it is possible that the ad was launched sooner and that it just came to my attention later.

Can a prescription Rx brand copy this social media model?

EpiPen falls under “ethical pharmaceuticals” in the regulatory system.  However, it is not a schedule F product (prescription required for sale).  Therefore, section c01.044 of Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations Act (which limits pharmaceutical DTC advertising to only product name, price, quantity) does not apply.  To promote a prescription product (Schedule F) in a FaceBook ad (DTC), only the product name, price and quantity would be allowable because it is a public direct-to-consumer placement.  Since the PAAB approves campaigns as a whole, this would also apply to any website that the FaceBook ad would link to.  For more information about Canadian regulatory requirements for prescription products promoted in social media, see Highlights from “Social Media Marketing in Pharma: What Works in Canada” or contact Patrick Massad at the PAAB.  If you are interested in learning more about Canadian regulatory guidelines for other types of healthcare products, you might like this article.

Is this the first Canadian pharma ad on FaceBook?

As far as the ads that I have seen on my personal FaceBook profile, this is the first one that I have seen from a Canadian pharmaceutical company.  There may have been others.  I might have missed them, or perhaps I was not part of the target market for the ad.  So unless somebody tells me otherwise, I do believe that this is the very first branded FaceBook ad by a Canadian pharmaceutical company.  In fact, I have not seen an unbranded FaceBook ad by any Canadian pharma companies.  I you know of others, then please share in the comments section.

Is the FaceBook ad driving traffic to the EpiPen.ca website?

Since the EpiPen FaceBook ad seems to have the objective of driving unique visitor traffic to the EpiPen.ca website, it is reasonable to track traffic to the site as an ROI measurement.  As an outsider, I will use data from Alexa and Compete. The following data and snapshot were taken on May 12 2010:

  • Alexa traffic rank as of May 12 2010 is 1,562,812
  • Alexa traffic rank in Canada is 27,244.
  • 1,177 monthly unique visitors to the website in February 2010.

In a few months, I’ll take another look at the data from these two sources to see if the website gets a peak in their traffic.  This could create some interesting discussion.  Stay tuned !!

Congratulations to King Pharmaceuticals for taking this innovative step.

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9 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Petersen, Paul Grant and SharingStrength, Nat Bourre. Nat Bourre said: Check out the 1st #FaceBook ad by a #Canadian pharma company http://tinyurl.com/2bmgt3t #hcsm […]

  2. There was a FB campaign I managed back in the fall of 2009 on behalf of a Canadian Internet Pharmacy, CanAmericaGlobal.com. This campaign was directed to a certain group users of users looking for prescription medication that was temporarily unavailable in the U.S but a Canadian equivalent was available. The campaign ran for approx. 3 weeks. I had a few issues with FB not allowing the ad due to the nature of the product, but once it was ironed out, it was a successful campaign.

    • Thanks for sharing Curtis. That sounds like a creative solution. Good job. I would be interested in learning more about the campaign. What were the issues that FB had, and how did you iron them out? What type of response did you get from your target market? Can you share any of that with us?

  3. Your article was most tweeted by Pharma experts in the Twitterverse…

    Come see other top popular articles surfaced by Pharma experts!…

  4. […] The 1st Canadian Pharma Ad on FaceBook? « Marketing 4 Health […]

  5. […] great catch by the folks over at Marketing 4 Health: an ad for a Canadian pharmaceutical company (King Pharmaceuticals) was spotted in the sidebar for […]

    • Thanks for linking to my blog post. This is a huge honour for me because I read the Edelman posts all the time … they arrive in my inbox in the wee hours of the morning, when I’m usually catching up to my online work.

  6. Hi Nat,
    I saw this when you first posted and didn’t reply with a correction at the time. While it looks to be an interesting campaign for epiPen, it is not the first Canadian pharma ad on Facebook. To be clear, I am not suggesting GSK was the first company in Canada to have Facebook placement for our banner ads, however Facebook has been taking ads for years and GSK, in fact, has had two campaigns that included Facebook placement starting back in early 2007. This was when Facebook’s ad units were standard IAB sizing (eg: bottom leaderboard), although, if I recall, they changed their ad sizing in the 2nd half of 2008 to the small button ads you see today. The first campaign was an unbranded disease awareness campaign for a Schedule F product and the second was for a vaccine.

    That said, placing ads on Facebook or any other social media site is simply part of an integrated online/offline media strategy across a number of different websites and media channels. I don’t view it as “social media” but simply advertising pure and simple. Actually engaging in a real-time unstructured way with patients or consumers within Facebook or any other social networking platform is another issue altogether for the pharma industry, particularly for Rx&D member companies.

    • Thanks for the feedback Laurie. This post was really looking at branded ads on FaceBook. I am interested in learning more about the GSK vaccine ad. Was it branded? My understanding of Canadian regulatory guidelines is that vaccines have special considerations with regards to advertising in Canada. Any info that you can send my way would be greatly appreciated. You can reach me at marketing4health@yahoo.ca .

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