Prepare or Die! OpEd by John Mack

Be PreparedUsually, at this time of the year, editors look back on the major stories of the past year. Let’s be different and look forward to the New Year! Not that it’s going to be any more pleasant than the old year; it’s just better to prepare for what’s coming than to reminisce about what’s come and gone.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the economy. But what about the new political realities, which will be driven by the failing economy, that the industry must prepare for?

The elephant in the room is the economy about which the following headlines should give the drug industry and pharmaceutical marketers pause:

“Ad-Spending Forecasts Are Glum”

“It’s Official! US has been in Recession since 2006!”

“Bristol-Myers to Cut Another 10% of Workers”

That elephant will stay put for quite awhile — experts suggest that the economy will get worse in 2009!

Add to these economic woes some new political realities: ie, the likelihood that a Democratcontrolled 111th Congress will usher in new regulations of DTC advertising, give FDA more power, and amend Medicare Part D to allow the government to negotiate drug prices.

Don’t forget healthcare reform, which will get lots more renewed attention now that Tom Daschle has been selected as Obama’s new Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Last, but not least, is the resignation of Andrew von Eschenbach, the current FDA Commissioner, effective January 20, 2009, and the urgent need to find his replacement.

Many pharmaceutical companies are and have been preparing to weather the economic storm by cutting back on staff and ad spending (see “DTC Ad Spending Will Decrease 9% in 2008 and 11% in 2009!“).

But what about the political storm? Is the pharma industry preparing for that?

PhRMA’s revision of its DTC Guidelines was an effort to head ’em off at the pass, but the ink on that document was barely dry before it was criticized by Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak, leading members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, as not going far enough.

So much for general principles.

What else should you do to prepare? I suggest that you peek inside the “enemy’s” tent for what to expect, take the pulse of your stakeholders and customers, and look outside the box for actionable ideas. Hopefully, this issue of Pharma Marketing News will help you accomplish that.

First, Mark S. Senak, J.D., SVP, Fleishman-Hillard, lays out the details of the political landscape ahead and suggests what the industry should do about it (see “The Changing Policy Landscape“).

Next we look at how well pharmaceutical companies are managing their Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) to help needy patients pay for medications (see “Patient Assistance Program Rankings“). A good PAP also helps improve a drug company’s image among its healthcare professional customers.

Upon defeating Erwin Rommel’s tank forces in North Africa, US General Patton said “Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!” Actually, Rommel never finished his book on tank warfare, but Tom Daschle’s book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis,” has been written and reached best-seller status. Have you read it?

For those among you who do not have time to read Daschle’s book, I have done it for you. For my review, see “Critical: What Daschle Plans to Do About the Healthcare Crisis” in this issue.

Maybe no shoes were thrown at Eschenbach when he announced his intent to resign his job as FDA Commissioner come January 20, 2009, but many pundits and journalists have long taken his departure for granted and wondered who would be chosen to replace him.

In order to cut through all this chatter and determine who real people favor for the new commissioner — whether they be executives and staffers working within the pharmaceutical industry, agents and vendors to the industry, healthcare professionals, members of the general public, or staffers within government health agencies — Pharma Marketing News hosted the online survey “Who Should Obama Nominate for FDA Commissioner?” The results are summarized in this issue (see “Reforming the FDA: It All Starts with a New Commissioner!“).

While no survey will determine who the next FDA Commissioner will be, it can help us understand the what kind of leadership is desired by various stakeholders. /p>

Those ignorant of history may be destined to repeat it, but those who refuse to see into the future and prepare for it are destined to die!

Issue: Vol. 7, No.8: December 2008
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