Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pharmaceutical Marketing's New Role

The Senate and House's version of healthcare reform legislation seeks to improve the cost and quality of care by establishing and funding Comparative Effectiveness Research Centers.  These centers would review options available for treatment for a particular condition to determine which option produces the best clinical and economic outcome. 

For many years pharmaceutical marketing focused upon promoting a drug's efficacy and safety based upon controlled clinical trials submitted for regulatory approval by the FDA.  Typically, the clinical trials were placebo controlled.  Most often, a drug's performance was not assessed against a comparator or competing drug.  In a market with greater attention on comparative effectiveness, marketing will need to take a far more active role in both clinical trials and how the drug is actually used once approved.
Without a question, marketing needs to become far more involved in R&D than it is today at many pharma companies.  Marketing will need to provide input to R&D on crucial decisions of when to include, or when not to include, comparisons to competing drugs.  If a comparative is desired, marketing will need to establish which drug(s) and what endpoints will need to be measured.   Comparative clinical trials are risky hence marketing will need to carefully translate market need and hence brand performance to balance the risk of the comparative trial.

Marketing will need to become far more involved in how drugs are actually used in the market place as comparative effectiveness research will certainly measure how a drug performs in the real world clinical setting of MDs offices and not just in carefully controlled clinical trials.  Drugs used properly with the right mix of healthcare services (e.g. MD visits at appropriate times, compliance enhancement, etc.) often perform better than if a patient is simply handed a pill in an amber colored vial.  Marketers can't afford to leave things to chance. Data will be accumulated and reviewed... good, bad or indifferent.

Smart companies will begin to take action now to change organizational structures and business processes to better integrate marketing in R&D today.  Drugs entering the pipeline will likely be reviewed for comparative effectiveness in the future.  Smart VPs of marketing will look to begin to experiment now (like the Januvia example) with their upcoming new role.  Companies who get down the learning curve faster than competition will have the competitive edge.

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