Frequently Asked Questions

Why would I allocate marketing funds to consumers if I cannot advertise my brand?

You can advertise to consumers, but strictly price, quantity and name (see section ‘DTC Regulations’). There are applications for this approach, Viagra® being a well-known example. This is not our specialty.

Our programs educate, inform and discuss the various treatments available in a comprehensible and balanced fashion. We begin with a database of self-reported consumers in specific therapeutic areas who seek further information. We create DTCI programs that build trust and encourage a patient-physician dialogue which opens a positive discussion of the best therapy for the patient based on product differentiators discussed within our programs.

How did you build such a large database covering 50 therapeutic areas?

The original database was built and is updated by our strategic partner, as this is their core competency. We survey 7,000,000 unique households in Canada each year by traditional mail, email and web-based surveys. Beyond collecting name, address, gender and age, we ask questions in key areas of interest.

Specific to the healthcare section of the survey, we decide which therapeutic areas to include and how best to ask each question. Brand usage questions are often asked for clients’ specific needs for message deployment. We have worked together for over 25 years fine-tuning the least invasive methods to ask sensitive questions without jeopardizing response rates.

We’re a member of Innovative Medicines Canada. As such, we submit all materials to PAAB for approval. Are your programs PAAB-approved?

PAAB approves materials provided to physicians, materials distributed by a physician to a patient or consumer and compliance or adherence programs that are brand specific.

Our programs are sent directly to healthcare consumers. Direct-to-consumer information (DTCI) programs must follow Health Canada (HC) Guidelines. Both ASC and PAAB can only provide an ‘advisory opinion’ on whether the HC Guidelines have been followed.

DTC Direct does follow these Guidelines! Submission to ASC or PAAB for an ‘advisory opinion’ is voluntary.

What is PIPEDA?

PIPEDA is an acronym for the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. It is a broad scale Federal privacy law that regulates the collection, use and disclosure of personal, identifiable information used in the private sector.


What is CASL?

CASL stands for Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. It’s anti-spam law that applies to all Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM), such as emails. It requires all senders of CEMs to get express consent from the Canadian recipient.


Is your entire healthcare consumer database PIPEDA and CASL compliant?


Which is more effective – email, social media or traditional mail?

All three can be effective when properly executed. While our principal database is built for traditional mail, the majority of consumers have also provided their email address. An integrative campaign using both traditional mail and email work well together as a means to both educate and drive consumers and patients to their physician and/or a specific web site.

Social media is a growing avenue for disseminating information to a broader audience. This is not our core competency. Our specialty is reaching information-seeking consumers with a specific ailment or disease.

My brand is still in Phase 3 clinical trials. If considering DTCI, when is the ideal timing?

There are no two identical situations. We have many clients who commenced dialogue two years pre-NOC and others who waited until their brand had been on the market for several years. That said, commencing dialogue pre-NOC provides an opportunity for increased customer learning and assists in market research. It also allows us to build our healthcare consumer list as early as possible.

How do physicians react to DTC Direct educational programs?

For the most part, very positively. There will always be physicians who believe it is their exclusive role to educate patients. However, the Internet has changed this dramatically and its success is fast becoming its demise. There is now so much information available on the net that patients are overwhelmed and no longer know what is credible.

Our educational programs are written especially for patients. We believe that patients who are educated about their condition are better prepared for their physician visit and are better able to provide the physician with a detailed history and to ask relevant questions. This is our approach and it benefits both the patient and physician.

I’ve never heard of DTC Direct. How many years have you been implementing DTCI programs for pharmaceutical companies?

We began over 25 years ago as a consumer direct-marketing agency. For the last 15 years we have concentrated on healthcare. Today, we are focused 100% on designing and implementing healthcare consumer and patient educational programs on behalf of Innovative Medicines Canada members. We created DTC Direct to reflect this complete dedication to pharmaceutical DTCI programs.

Does our corporate name appear on your programs?

If you want your corporate name to appear on the program as a sponsor, absolutely! Some of our clients choose to include it while others choose not to. We do have an educational platform called EduCare™ and most of our clients choose to use this respected name.