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The Rise of Pharma TikTok

    TikTok’s popularity soared in 2020, home-bound people finding solace in the app as we entered these widely described “unprecedented times.” 15-second dance trends blew up, launching teens into stardom overnight. Musicians played originals and covers under the digital spotlight. Artists, fitness coaches, actors, chefs…most everyone found a rapt audience on TikTok. This extends to the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma TikTok is steadily developing its own niche corner of the platform.

    As of now, the hashtag “pharma tiktok” has 146.K views, “pharma tok” has 663.4K, and “pharma” has a whopping 2.6B. 

    You may be skeptical, surprised, or both. What business does pharma have being on an app most popular with Gen Z and millennials, one often thought of us purely entertainment-based? 


    Pharmaceutical reps and pharmacy students are taking viewers through a day in their life. Pharmacists are posting FAQs about drugs and about their experiences working in the industry. Some pharmacists even record themselves filling prescriptions for #pharmacyasmr (598.1M views).

    As for marketers, pharmaceutical brands and agencies’ target audiences are active on TikTok: HCPs and patients.

    HCPs and patients have taken the app by storm, opening a new door for pharma marketing. 

    Educating the masses during public health crises

    It’s a scary time to be alive. Facts can be grounding. The general public is looking for answers as we continue to live with COVID, new threats to our wellbeing amassing as the weeks go on. 

    Who better to answer these pressing questions than professionals? TikTok allows HCPs to dole out palatable bites of information that TikTok users can digest in mere minutes. Not only does this disseminate helpful advice and facts to millions, more or less, it also humanizes HCPs. (Pharma could use some humanizing, too.)

    Dr. Stella (66.2K followers) informs viewers on hot medical topics such as vaccines, mask mandates, and the monkeypox outbreak, often appealing to the TikTok community by dancing as information pops up on the screen. Dr. Shonna Gaskin, M.D. (173.5K followers) similarly incorporates dance trends into her videos on med school, anesthesiology (her specialty), etc. The list goes on.

    Sometimes a face isn’t needed for an account to stand out. Medicine Explained, a page run by two doctors, has 1.8M followers. They use a voiceover and colorful paper drawings to answer health-related questions like: “Can lavender help my anxiety?” and “What is endometriosis?” 


    These convenient snippets make health information accessible to all.

    Pharma brands can do the same thing, sharing short-form content to educate, as well as increase brand visibility. To extend their reach and break through the digital clutter, brands can partner with "healthcare influencers" like Dr. Stella.

    Patient stories raising awareness 

    The sharing of personal stories fosters hope and community. TikTok has provided patients of various conditions and diseases with an outlet for speaking about their struggles and triumphs. They can feel less alone when they see others facing the same challenges.

    A lot of creators are using TikTok to destigmatize their condition/disease, as well as to spread awareness.

    Dani Trops (236.3K followers) is one of those creators. Dani is a breast cancer survivor. She uses her account to spread awareness to the younger generations, demonstrating how to perform important health checks and answering questions about life after breast cancer.

    As a pharma marketer, how can this help you? For one thing, it can help you gauge what's working and what's capturing the attention of patients.

    If you analyze these videos and their hashtags, you can determine what sort of content resonates with particular groups of patients. You can then emulate that style in videos promoting your brand.

    Marketing tool for pharma brands 

    Aside from partnerships with the aforementioned "healthcare influencers," brands can carve out space for themselves on Pharma TikTok by running campaigns to maximize exposure.


    Mucinex was the first OTC drug to launch a TikTok campaign, using the hashtag "too sick to be sick" as the tagline. (That hashtag now has 1B views.) The campaign promoted their new product, Nightshift. TikTokers were challenged to zombie-fy themselves right around Halloween time, as if suffering from the flu. With the help of Mucinex, they then transformed, switching into party attire, ready for a fun Halloween. 

    When TikTokers participated, using the Mucinex’s “Join the Challenge” music as they did the #BeatTheZombieFunk dance, Mr. Mucus appeared at the bottom of the screen, further advertising Mucinex and keeping Nightshift at the forefront of viewers' minds.

    TikTok is no longer reserved for dancing high schoolers and style icons. Pharma TikTok is alive and growing. Don't miss out.

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