Dear Reader,

Welcome to the November/December 2004 archive of Pharma Marketing News.

Vol. 3, No. 10: November/December 2004 – CONTENTS

Up Front


Conference Calendar

Article Summaries

Up Front – Corporate “Moral Values” Anyone?
Opinion by John Mack

moral values According to the media, George Bush won the election on the issue of moral values. I applaud the fact that morality has become such a hot political issue. As a liberal, I believe that individuals should behave morally. For me that means we should act not just for our own self aggrandizement, but also for the common good. That is, do good work.

If by doing public good you are rewarded with personal gain, why that’s liberal nirvana and what we should all strive for! Raymond V. Gilmartin, Merck’s president, chairman and chief executive officer, once quoted former Merck CEO George W. Merck: “We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. Not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear.”

Doing public good is what attracted me to science in the first place and eventually to the pharmaceutical industry. I believe pharmaceutical companies have done more public good than any other type of business I can think of. This is why pharmaceutical companies can attract employees that are not only smart but who also have high moral values. But I think that the pharma industry leadership has lost its moral compass. Merck, unfortunately, is the latest example of this trend.

When Merck pulled Vioxx off the market I admired the company’s courage to do the “right thing” by putting people’s lives before profits. The decision was widely applauded — except on Wall Street where Merck immediately lost 27% of its market value.

A few days later it was revealed that Merck may have known about Vioxx’s cardiovascular side effect problems for years and tried very hard to conceal the evidence and block any action by the FDA. While this was going on an estimated 27,000 people suffered heart attacks and who knows how many strokes possibly due to Vioxx!

If this obstructionism by Merck is true, then someone should pay. While Merck’s CEO may get his golden parachute sooner than planned, the small Merck stock and mutual fund investor is really being punished-Merck’s stock has lost about 40% of its market value since the withdrawal of Vioxx.

More worrisome than loss of capital is the brain drain that Merck faces as employees are reported to be seeking positions elsewhere. No doubt many employees feel that Merck’s troubles may lead to downsizing and loss of jobs, so they better leave the sinking ship. But I think many of them also feel betrayed by the questionable moral leadership of their company. That leadership has seemingly flipped Merck’s venerable moral compass and forgot that medicine is for the people, not for the profits. A pity.

The Truth About the Drug Companies: What To Do About It
By John Mack

You can’t go to a pharma industry conference these days without hearing at least one expert speaker recommending that pharma executives read the book “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to do About It,” written by Marcia Angell, MD, former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. It’s not often that you see pro-industry pundits recommend a book that “tears pharma a new one,” as some would say.

Richard Vanderveer, Chairman & CEO, V2 GfK and an advisory board member of this newsletter said “This book has a lot of buzz going for it. Industry executives should read it defensively and be ready to answer questions at cocktail parties. I am a firm believer in counteracting bad press.”

This review includes several point-counter point views regarding Angell’s arguments by pharmaceutical and healthcare experts, including members of the PHARMA-MKTING online discussion group.

The article includes the following sections:

  • Kudos from Pundits
  • What Are Her Points?
  • Research vs. Marketing
  • Education vs. Marketing
  • Tough Years Ahead?

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Creating a Successful DTC Campaign on the Inside
By Dan Limbach

While most major direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising campaigns in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries are created and managed by outside agencies, outsourcing a DTC marketing campaign can be expensive. When budgets are lean-as they are in today’s marketplace-marketers need to look at how much can be done with in-house resources. But with fewer people being asked to do more than ever, how does a company handle bringing more of the work in-house?

Carrie Nelson, Manager New Hope Parkinson Program, and Laura Virden, Market Development Manager, of Medtronic shared the story of their two-year journey tackling this problem at the recent “Direct to Consumer Strategies for Medical Devices” conference organized by the Center for Business Intelligence.

The article includes the following sections:

  • Medtronic’s New Hope DTC Program
  • Capture-Cultivate-Close-Support
  • Questions to Ask Before Beginning
  • Manage Resources and Delegate
  • Keys to Success


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A Novel Approach to Communicating with Physicians
By John Mack

Physicians are spending less and less time with pharmaceutical sales representatives. Recent data quoted at sales effectiveness conferences suggest that 70% of physicians have policies to restrict sales rep access and that only 43% of calls by reps result in actual face-to-face meetings with physicians. When a sales rep actually does get see a primary care physician, the call typically lasts less than 2 minutes, less than 30% of calls contain a product message, and less than 13% of messages-when delivered-are on target and recalled!

This article describes a patent-pending technology developed by MagicMedia Communications. It offers a novel way for pharmaceutical sales representatives to “talk” to a doctor…even when face-to-face discussion is not possible! We won’t give the secret away here. You’ll have to read the article!

The article includes the following sections:

  • Talk to Physicians Without Face-to-Face Meeting
  • Customizable to a Quantity of One
  • Flexible Tool
  • Measurable Results

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Is Your Product Ready for Consumers?
By Dan Limbach

You’ve spent a king’s ransom getting your medical device ready to market. It’s passed all the regulatory requirements. You have the clinical studies that prove its validity. You have a story to tell, but whom do you tell it to?

It’s not always clear whether your marketing dollars should be spent on DTC marketing. Amy Siegel, Vice President, Health Advances, LLC, a healthcare strategy consulting company located in Weston, MA, offered some clear advice on how to determine if DTC is appropriate for a medical device. She was speaking at a recent Direct to Consumer Strategies for Medical Devices conference in Chicago organized by the Center for Business Intelligence. Mark Speers, Co-founder and Managing Director of Health Advances also participated in the presentation.

Siegel shares strategies for evaluating whether your product is ready for a DTC campaign based on characteristics of the disease, the patient population, the payment vehicles, the clinical specialty and the nature of the therapy.

The article includes the following sections:

  • More Devices Will Opt for DTC
  • Acne Treatment Device Case Study
  • Co-op Advertising


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Will COX-2 Inhibitors Crash and Burn?
By John Mack

Is the sky falling around COX-2 inhibitors?

After the fall of Vioxx, Merck is suffering mightily: 42% loss of market share, downgraded credit ratings, lost revenue, congressional scrutiny, etc. But worse still, the entire class of COX-2 inhibitors is under increased scrutiny and the credibility of Merck, the FDA, and the entire drug industry is in question as revelations about who knew what, when are announced almost daily.

This article documents the effect of the withdrawal of Vioxx and other COX-2 revelations on physicians’ prescribing behavior using data from ImpactRx. Also included are results from a recent survey we conducted of Pharma Marketing News susbcribers regarding the wisdom of Pfizer’s decision to test Celebrex to see if it is able to prevent heart attacks and strokes in patients with serious cardiovascular disease.

The article includes the following sections:

  • The Me Too Domino Effect
  • Trouble at FDA
  • What About the Effect on Physicians’ Prescribing Behavior
  • Pfizer: Crazy or What?
  • Survey Results
  • Selected Comments from Respondents


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