In his excellent article, What Merck has to do to remain an independent drug maker, business writer Donald Johnson lists the following 10 scientific, political, financial, and marketing issues facing Merck and the entire pharmaceutical industry:

  1. Public anger about soaring drug expenditures and “prices,” which is being reflected in grand standing by powerful politicians.
  2. Purchasing groups that are being formed by groups of states, which are trying to contain runaway drug spending by their underfunded and expensive Medicaid programs.
  3. A shaken FDA, which is being blamed for letting Vioxx, Celebrex and other drug mishaps go undetected and unregulated.
  4. Suspicious physicians, known for willingly taking “gifts” and “grants” from pharmaceutical companies’ detail people, but unhappy about being misled by the drug makers and about their direct-to-consumer advertising. They must believe that what they see as unethical marketing by drug companies has made them look unethical. It has.
  5. Price-conscious institutional buyers of drugs that will take advantage of any sign of weakness to demand price breaks and help in containing the use of high-priced, marginally more effective “new” drugs.
  6. Wary patients, worried about drugs’ side effects, high prices and the credibility of drug companies may be less likely to have their prescriptions filled.
  7. Scared senior employees who will abandon ship at the first opportunity unless they see an imminent turn around.
  8. Jilted investors who are on a buyers’ strike and will sell whenever Merck’s stock rallies anywhere close to their break even points.
  9. Trial attorneys and patients with dollar signs in their eyes.
  10. Medical journal editors who believe that their credibility has suffered with Merck’s and the drug industry’s. They will be very reluctant to publish articles about any medical research if they believe that any company has had a role in writing, editing or approving a journal article.

I will write on a few of these issues — FDA problems, drug reimportation (prices), etc. — in future posts to Pharma Marketing Blog. Meanwhile, many of these issues are addressed in the book “The Truth About Drug Companies” by Marcia Angell (read the Pharma Marketing News review: The Truth About Drug Companies: What to Do About It).

The 2005 HOT ISSUE Survey

What impact will issues like drug reimporation, weak pipelines, decreasing profits, drug recalls, class action lawsuits, government regulation, etc., have on the course of the pharmaceutical industry in 2005? What do you think? Click here to take the survey.

See the Pharma Marketing Network Survey page for other surveys and results.