‘Crappy’ diagnosis websites mean GPs still vital, argues top boss at over-the-counter drugs body

Misleading or inaccurate information on many internet health sites mean GPs remain vital to patient diagnosis in 2017, claimed the marketing director of non-prescription drugs body the ASMI.

The surprising endorsement from Filomena Maiese came as part of a panel debating innovation and success in over-the-counter (OTC) marketing as part of Mumbrella’s Health and Wellness Summit in Sydney yesterday.

From left to right: Mumbrella’s Simon Canning, The Hallway’s Brad Bennett, the ASMI’s Filomena Maiese and 6AM’s Gill Fish

Maise was speaking alongside Brad Bennett, the strategy director of ad agency The Hallway and Gillian Fish, the director of the PR, content marketing and event agency 6am.

Maise told delegates: “Healthcare professional are an important source of information.

“There is crappy information out there. Some of it is right and some is wrong, so patients still need to have a conversation with a doctor and a pharmacist.

“They are the gatekeepers and a useful resource.

“The internet means that consumers want to know more. Consumers want to be empowered.

“It can allow patients to ask doctors and pharmacists more informed questions.”

Bennett echoed her views, arguing that fewer young patients are seeing their GPs and warned them to take care on the internet.

“For a consumer, you go online and you’ll have these no name forums. It’s worrying because it’s leading to a denigration in the relationship with GPs and this puts tension on the source.”

The need to balance visits to the GP with easier access to medication in pharmacies was one of many topics discussed in the meeting.

ASMI’s Filomena Maiese

Gillian Fish argued the healthcare industry is gradually evolving into one focussed on wellness, with prevention increasingly prioritised over treatment.

She said: “We’ve moved from a sickness model of healthcare to a wellness model.

“Today we all have an issue: whether it’s simply prevention or managing age-related problems.”

She also praised the rise of technology in transforming healthcare.

“We have seen companies use VR to bring experiences to life. It’s helping to demystify patients and connect people.”

6am’s Gillian Fish

Maiese used her presentation to highlight the revolution in previously prescription-only drugs becoming OTC remedies.

“When a product moves up or down the schedules then it’s a game-changer because it means you can find out about treatments without visiting your doctor.

“You used to need a script for allergy meds, thrush treatments or Nicotine replacement drugs.

“Now there is a discussion to bring treatments such as oral contraceptive pills, cholesterol lower meds and urinary tract infection antibiotics to OTC.”

“This can connect with social media, too. Research, for instance, says it takes between four and seven attempts before smokers can finally give up. But social media helps you connect with them on a regular basis.”

The Hallway’s Brad Bennett


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