Dear Reader,

Welcome to the October 2004 archive of Pharma Marketing News.

Vol. 3, No. 9: October 2004 – CONTENTS

Up Front


Survey Results

Conference Calendar

Up Front – Vioxx Withdrawal and the “Me-Too Drug Domino Effect”
Opinion by John Mack

dominoes Merck’s “voluntary” withdrawal of Vioxx from the market will likely have strong repercussions throughout the pharmaceutical industry. Of course it has affected Merck the most, including the loss of $2.5 billion in annual sales — about 11% of the company’s total sales in 2003 — and loss of 26.2% of shareholder value.

In case you don’t know the story, Vioxx was withdrawn after one of Merck’s own studies showed an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks seen in patients after three years on the drug.

The withdrawal raised many questions, including FDA’s safety review process, coziness between FDA and drug companies, the length of time it took Merck to pull the drug, and even concern about the role of DTC ads.

But let’s just talk about the effect on other COX-II inhibitor drugs, including Celebrex and Bextra.

Some people have suggested that the fall of Vioxx will help its competitors. After all, patients taking Vioxx will have to be switched to one or the other of these drugs. Maybe. Or maybe it will help OTC products like Advil, ads for which mention the Vioxx problem. But perhaps the most troublesome effect may be the increased scrutiny that will now be paid to other COX-II inhibitors and the likelihood that they too will be shown to have similar problems.

The FDA has already said it will require longer-term studies for similar (“me too”) drugs that are waiting for approval (e.g., Merck’s arthritis drug Arcoxia and Novartis’ drug Prexige) as well as drugs already on the market (i.e., Celebrex and Bextra). This is what I call a manifestation of the “Me-Too Domino Effect,” a term I just invented.

A “me-too” drug is a chemical entity that is structurally very similar to an already known drug and having only minor pharmacological differences. According to Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and author of the book “The Truth About the Drug Companies,” “about 25 to 30 percent of [pharmaceutical company] sales goes to marketing [me-too drugs].”

An axiom of the Me-Too Drug Domino Effect is that if there is a problem with a drug that has “me-too” competitors, the competitors are also at risk. Need proof? On October 15 Pfizer announced that Bextra was also associated with an increase in heart attacks and strokes. Seemingly in denial of the axiom, Pfizer-according to the Wall Street Journal-plans to sponsor a clinical trial to test Celebrex’s ability to prevent heart attacks and strokes in patients with serious cardiovascular disease. Go figure!

The Me-Too Drug Domino Effect can also work in favor of drugs that benefit by association with good news about a competing drug. Another axiom of the Me-Too Drug Domino Effect, however, is that the upside potential is much less than the downside potential. In my view, Pfizer is gambling against the odds.

Physician Adoption and Use of Technology at the Point of Care
By Caren Spinner and John Mack

Point of Care (POC) technologies, including Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and electronic prescribing (eRx), promise to play an increasingly key role in the delivery of health care in the US.

“We are moving aggressively to bring our health care system into the modern world of information technology,” said Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., CMS administrator. “We are committed to using health information technology to improve health and health care not only for Medicare’s 41 million beneficiaries, but for all Americans.”

This article provides insight from experts such as Mark Bard, President of Manhattan Research and David Kibbe, M.D., Director, Healthcare Information Technology, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), on the impact of new technologies at the point of care on pharmaceutical sales and marketing.

The following topics are covered:

  • e-Detailing
  • The Physician Perspective
  • Spending on Healthcare Technology
  • Adoption of Technology by Physicians
  • The Electronic Medical Record
  • Why Pharma Should be Involved

Order the Full Article Reprint – $9.95

Issue: Vol. 3, No. 9: October 2004
Word Count: 1730
TOPICS: eDetailing | ePrescribing | Physician Marketing

The Role of Tablet PCs in Pharma Sales and Marketing
By Caren Spinner

Pharmaceutical companies invest substantial resources on information, training, and support to insure their sales forces are successful. Equipping sales reps with mobile technology is a critical element for delivering and managing the flow of information between the rep and the company and between the rep and the customer.

The latest device in the progression of mobile computing technology is the tablet or slate PC. The Tablet PC is the evolution of the Notebook PC and the most mobile PC ever. However, mobility does not necessarily equate to “high impact” or guarantee an increase in face time with the physician. Understanding how to most effectively utilize this technology is critical.

This article summarizes different aspects of this latest innovation in portability and performance and how they could be used to increase sales force effectiveness in both the primary care and hospital-based environments.

The following topics are covered:

  • What Is a Tablet PC?
  • Mobility and Functionality
  • Training is Critical for Full Benefit
  • Pilot for Operational Success
  • Tablet PCs and Closed-Loop Promotion
  • Tablet PCs in the Hospital Setting
  • Use By MSLs

Order the Full Article Reprint – $6.95

Issue: Vol. 3, No. 9: October 2004
Word Count: 1802
TOPICS: Physician Marketing | Sales Force Effectiveness/Productivity | Key Opinion Leader Management/Medical Science Liaison

Strategies for Enhanced Physician Targeting and Segmentation
By Caren Spinner

At a recent Technology Supported Physician Detailing conference in Philadelphia, PA, Richard B. Vanderveer, Ph.D., CEO of the global pharmaceutical marketing and research firm V2 GfK, presented strategies for enhanced physician targeting and segmentation. In his presentation, Vanderveer addressed the question: What is targeting and segmentation, and how can it help companies approach the right physician, about the right product and with the right marketing message? .

The following topics are covered:

  • Some Marketers Miss the Boat
  • The Four T’s of Micromarketing
  • The Practice Context
  • The Treatment Context

Order the Full Article Reprint – $6.95

Issue: Vol. 3, No. 9: October 2004
Word Count: 882
TOPICS: Physician Marketing | Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

No More Free Lunch in California?
By John Mack

The California legislature recently passed SB 1765 (aka, “fair drug marketing bill”), which requires pharma companies to comply with PhRMA and OIG Guidelines.

The pharmaceutical industry has often been accused of lavishing gifts and free meals on doctors with the intention of influencing their prescribing decisions. That is the premise, for example, of a report published recently by the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) entitled “‘Tis Always the Season for Giving.”

CALPIRG claims that to increase their chances of face time with a doctor, drug reps come armed with more than a few pens and notepads. They bring chocolates and watches and offer expensive meals and trips. The cost of these freebies, claims CALPIRG, is passed on to the consumer in higher prices paid for drugs. “The bottom line,” said Emily Clayton, CALPIRG’s Healthcare Associate and author of the report, “is our drugs don’t have to cost as much as they do. If drug companies stopped trying to influence prescription-writing by giving gifts to our doctors, then consumers, insurers and the government could all save money on prescription drugs.”

SB 1765, sponsored by CALPIRG, would require pharmaceutical companies — and also any person who engages in pharmaceutical promotional activities on behalf of a pharmaceutical company — doing business in California to “adopt and update a Comprehensive Compliance Program (CCP) for interactions with health care professionals.” SB 1765 is currently awaiting signature by Governor Schwarzenegger.

The following topics are covered:

  • Voluntary Guidelines
  • Provisions of the Bill
  • Exemptions
  • Schwarzenegger in a Tight Spot?

Order the Full Article Reprint – $6.95

Issue: Vol. 3, No. 9: October 2004
Word Count: 977
TOPICS: Physician Marketing | Corporate Compliance/Government Regulation/Industry Guidelines

Drug Reimportation Survey Results
By John Mack

Reimportation is a growing and real concern for the pharmaceutical industry and Congress is considering several bills that seek to make drug importation from Canada legal. What’s the best argument against reimportation and is new legislation required?

This article summarizes the results of a recent Pharma Marketing News Survey on this topic. The survey asked the following questions:

  1. In your opinion, if Congress were to pass one of the 2 major reimportation bills, which bill would you prefer to be passed?
  2. Regardless of the fate of bills in Congress, what’s your level of agreement with the following arguments that have been used against reimportation of prescription drugs?
    • Proposed reimportation programs are too complex and expensive
    • FDA cannot guarantee safety of reimported drugs
    • Risk of endangering patients with counterfeit or substandard drugs
    • Would hinder the ability of pharmaceutical companies to invest in R&D for new drugs
    • No guarantee reimported drugs would be cheaper after middlemen get their cut

PDFRead the full text of this article (includes tables; PDF format).

Issue: Vol. 3, No. 9: October 2004
Word Count: 630
TOPICS: Strategy/Planning