Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pharma shifts to eDetailing and doctors like it

As pipelines shrink, patents expire, generics grow (see story), the FDA becomes more cautious and conservative, consumer groups complain more about drug prices, the government investigates marketing practices, and stockholders get more angst, the pharmaceutical companies have no choice but to reduce their costs to compete and survive. Sales reps will be cut first because they are much more expensive than new web-based technologies that can offer a higher ROI.

In a January 2008 "What Doctors Think" performed an online physician survey of 230 doctors in various specialties. 44% of surveyed doctors said that ‘email with web site links’ pharma-marketing was the least intrusive on their practice and time. Only 6% of doctors said that sales rep detailing was least intrusive. 9% said that meals with sales reps was least intrusive.

As doctors’ incomes slide, and they spend much less time with sales reps, eDetailing (email and the web) is clearly the strategy for pharmaceutical companies to shift to. It’s far less expensive, much more effective and is more socio-economically acceptable--think green.

When asked what was the most effective way for a pharmaceutical company to notify a doctor of a new FDA drug approval, 57% of polled doctors said ‘email with link to web site’, whereas only 37% said a ’sales rep visit’. When asked “what form of medical company marketing would LEAST escalate national health care costs,” 64% said ‘email with links to web sites’ whereas only 5% said ’sales reps’.

The full healthcare market research survey can be viewed whatdoctorsthink.com.

An analysis of the shift from detailing to eDetailing can be found doctornet.com/e-detailingarticle1.html.

Merck is seeing the prescription-writing on the wall. Other pharmaceutical companies will shortly follow the growing trend.

Robert Cykiert, M.D.
Robert Cykiert, M.D.