Yesterday I posted a critique of an article in the May 2006 issue of the venerable Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine, affectionately known as PE to its loyal readers, of whom I consider myself one (see “Specious Arguments in Favor of Rx Data Use“).

In response to that post, Terry Nugent, a very knowledgeable member of the PHARMA-MKTING online discussion group, had this to say:

“John, I think you are a bit rough on AMA and IMS. In fact, prescribing data does accomplish much of what the authors claim. I speak from first hand experience. The data to target high prescribers for CME, trials, etc.

“The PE document includes talking points designed to appeal to various
constituencies, most notably legislators Thus it is always part of the proces to bring in public interest arguments. While they may not be compelling to industry insiders, they are useful for friendly politicians to derail ill-advised regulation.AMA usually vets these arguments rigorously so that they are defensible in such debates. Sometimes the sheer number of arguments is helpful.

“If Rxdata is banned, marketing costs will increase. You are ight that they could be lower now if the industry used the data wisely.”

Terry points out some good uses that physician Rx data could be put to by pharma. Unfortunately, the authors of the PE article do not mention these at all, which just proves my point that the arguments they do make were specious.

But Terry points out perhaps the REAL reason why the authors make the arguments they do — to promulgate “talking points” that can be used to arm friendly politicians who can help fight pharma’s battles. In other words, the PE article is merely a lobbying effort.

Not that there’s inherently anything wrong with providing this kind of information to friendly politicians who we need to keep bad laws at bay.

But is a venerable publication like PE merely a vessel for communicating PR/lobbying “talking points?” PE does have a section for news and analysis, including opinion pieces where talking points are presented all the time. The remainder of the publication, I thought, is supposed to be devoted to articles that inform and educate pharmaceutical executives. I don’t think mere talking points are helpful in that context.

Pharma’s use of physician Rx data deserves a more informative analysis that could help pharmaceutical executives understand better the concerns of their clients so that they will better be able to explain to these clients what’s at stake. This should be the role of a publication like PE.

Where’s the Dialogue?
Pharmaceutical executives these days seem overly concerned with circling the wagons and with confronting their political adversaries. Publications like PE are becoming tools for that battle. In the meantime, physicians, not getting any satisfaction with direct dialog with pharmaceutical companies, are becoming antagonists and going to their societies to change laws.

What’s Your Opinion?
Take the following survey, which solicits your opinion on the benefits of pharma access to prescribing information, physicians ability to opt-out, and appropriate uses of Rx data by pharmaceutical companies.
Click here to take this survey.
Survey Results:

  • After completing the survey you will be able to see a summary of results (de-identified, excludes open-ended responses and comments that may identify the respondent). You can also use filters to examine results from different subsets of respondents (e.g., pharma company employees vs. non-pharma people, etc.).