Prescribing with Hearts, Not Just Brains

Trust, based on emotional connections and relationships with drug representatives, is equally as important as a treatment's functionality when it comes to physicians recommending, endorsing and prescribing products.

For physicians, trust in the pharmaceutical company and brand is just as influential in their decision to prescribe a medicine as the product’s efficacy, according to a Harris Interactive study.

The Harris Poll Physician Pulse documents how product functionality, emotions and relationships with companies and representatives all factor in to determining which products physician trust and prescribe.

"Our research clearly demonstrates that trust is about much more than efficacy alone,” Joseph Vorrasi, senior vice president of health care research at Harris, said in a statement.

The top-ranked drugs in five high-volume prescription categories are:

Asthma

Treatment: Advair

Company: GlaxoSmithKline

COPD

Treatment: Spiriva

Companies: Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer

Osteoporosis

Treatment: Actonel

Company: Warner Chilcott

Pregnancy prevention

Treatment: Mirena

Company: Bayer

Rheumatoid arthritis (tied)

Treatment: Enbrel

Companies: Amgen and Pfizer

Treatment: Humira

Company: Abbott Laboratories

The brands with the highest levels of trust are more likely to be endorsed, recommended and prescribed by physicians, according to Harris. Trust is equally as important as the treatment’s functionality. And what drives the trust physicians have in brands was emotional connection, relationships with sales representatives and perceptions of the pharmaceutical company backing the product.

“…trust leaders tended to outperform the competition by being perceived as offering one or more unique functional benefits, connecting with physicians on an emotional level, and by being backed by strong thought leadership.”

According to Harris, the pharmaceutical industry has been moving toward presenting a good appearance — managing relationships, better customer experiences and corporate reputation—in addition to functional performance.

"Across a diverse and growing set of therapeutic categories, we've been able to document that emotional connection to a product and the relational strengths of companies and representatives can be almost as important as the product's functional characteristics in driving trust and, ultimately, preference and prescribing," Vorrasi said.

See the rankings here.