Medical affairs and marketing divisions in pharmaceutical companies have historically functioned as two separate entities, rarely relying upon one another to perform their jobs. Some might go so far to say that the relationship between the two functions has been strained. Marketers may feel that medical affairs is a "threat" to their effectiveness, holding them back from employing effective communication programs to extol the benefits of their products. Medical affairs people, on the other hand, sometimes wince at the envelope pushing tactics of their marketing colleagues, claiming that product managers view FDA warning letters as rites of passage, often framing them for display.
Can't We All Just Get Along?
The April 28-29, 2003, Aligning Medical Affairs and Marketing conference organized by Pharmaceutical Education Associates (www.pharmedassociates.com) claimed that "a harmonious partnership between the two areas is critical." Yet, I came away from the meeting with the feeling that medical affairs people have achieved, in their own minds, a sense of much-deserved vindication. A harmonious partnership may actually require a power shift from marketing to medical affairs, at least when it comes to using field-based medical programs - or what some might call physician "edutainment" - for marketing purposes.
What may aid in this power shift is the new PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals as well as the final Compliance Program Guidance for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers issued on April 28, 2003, by the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG).