Archive for October, 2007

You’re not good at something (either as an individual, or as a department). You have limited time and resources. And you have a simple choice:

Try to do it badly. Or let someone else do it.

Letting someone else do it is often a very wise idea. It’s usually called outsourcing (a couple years back, I had the brilliant idea that it should be called right-sourcing. A quick Google indicated that I wasn’t the first to think up that concept!…however, I still believe it is actually the better term).

I have managed to run my consulting business on my own, and I’m reasonably good at most aspects of it. Except bookkeeping/accounting. I hate it. And this week, I finally decided to outsource it. It’s a drag on my time and energy, and I cannot seem to gain fluency at it. So why should I bother anymore?

When consulting with my pharmaceutical clients, one of my first considerations will often be a “right-sourcing” strategy. If there are internal resources to develop and manage something, great. But often, a program or platform or solution is put in place far more successfully with an outside partner.


    1. Expertise – often, an outside resource possesses the focused knowledge and abilities that your internal group simply does not possess.
    2. Efficiency – if someone else already has a solution in place, how much quicker is it to plug into that, than to try to re-invent the wheel?
    3. Time – you may not have the time to devote to creating or managing something new. There are only so many hours in a day.
    4. Cost – Many times, it is less expensive in both the short- and long-term to allow someone else to accomplish certain tasks than to add headcount.

There are other reasons, but these are chief. My business is to be a “right-source” for you in setting strategic direction, figuring out optimal solutions, and selecting suppliers. In that sense, I join your team for a season as a resource to help make rightsourcing decisions.

Coming in Part 2: typical scenarios where right-sourcing should be considered.

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After Hours 10_19

Breathtaking image of a lunar eclipse.

Plants are apparently far more complex than we thought. First, they “talk” to one another. Now we find out that one plant species absorbed the lessons of Arsenic and Old Lace and poisons its neighbors with acid! And finally, Pinot Noir grapes are genetically more complex than we are!

Why didn’t anyone think of this before? How to keep from banging your thumb with a hammer.

Kids explain love. Hysterical.

From the Great Test Answers file:find-x.jpg

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Here are 17 excellent reasons to measure (assess/evaluate) learning, from Will Thalheimer’s blog.

Upcoming event for those in the NJ/Philly/NY area – the 2nd Annual Technology Showcase, sponsored by the Mid-NJ ASTD chapter. This is scheduled for November 15. There will be a keynote, a series of short presentations, a sit-down dinner, and a great collection of vendors to talk to. The entire focus is on technology training tools and applications. More here, which includes the registration link.

Need to learn more about simulations? First, call me. OK, blatant commercial plug. Then, go to Clark Aldrich’s excellent blog, which focuses on this topic.

Gaming? Same advice applies about giving me a call. Then, head over to Karl Kapp’s blog.

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A few resources that might be of interest to my pharma/sales training audience:

    Very cool medical animation of blood flow (from the ever-interesting Kevin, M.D. blog)
    Upcoming free webinar (Oct. 23) on Sales Coaching for better Sales Results (featuring Linda Richardson). And, on the same day, an ASTD webcast on Learning and Social Networks (take your pick!)

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The Good Stuff:

BMS gets approval for new oncology drug (for breast cancer) Ixempra.

Merck gets new HIV drug (Isentress) approved in the U.S. And, their Januvia diabetes drug gets new uses approved.

Abraxis gets cancer drugs approved.

J&J gets Doribax (for intra-abdominal and urinary tract infections) approved.

Bayer reports upbeat MS drug results.

Glaxo: new use of HIV drug Lexiva OK’d.

The Bummers:

Say what? Viagra and other impotence drugs may be causing hearing loss??

Pfizer pulls the plug on Exubera, lets partner Nektar know after the press release.

Novartis details job cuts, and some executive shuffling at the top. They will end a contract sales force agreement with InVentiv Health as part of the pullback.

Major job cuts at struggling Boston Scientific.

J&J‘s drug biz not growing as rapidly as has been typical. Here’s why.

Genentech posts “only” 22% year over year earnings growth. This is apparently considered a disappointment…

VA scraps most use of Avandia.

Byetta and acute pancreatitis: beware!

Pfizer and Wyeth report large charges in their earnings reports (buy Lilly has good numbers)

Speculation, gossip, other stuff:

Biogen hangs out a “For Sale” sign.

Pfizer jumps into Sermo, the physician networking site. Not everyone is thrilled.

Who is Pfizer going to buy up next? Genzyme? Everyone is hot on biotech acquisitions these days…

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King Pharmaceuticals has suffered a setback (potential generic competitors for Altace), and will be cutting its employee base significantly.

That’s the straightforward way to say it. But when companies have to make cuts, you can be sure that the most creative use of obfuscation will come to the fore. Here’s the headline announcing this:

King Pharmaceuticals Accelerates Strategic Shift to Maximize Long-Term Growth

…and here’s a juicy quote from the CEO:

Kings existing platforms in neuroscience and hospital/acute care and aggressive business development initiatives position the Company to effectively capitalize on the positive dynamics of both marketplaces. As a result, we are now in the process of realigning our organization and optimizing the Companys cost structure, which primarily involves restructuring the size and focus of our sales force to better support the priorities of our strategic plan, explained Mr. Markison.

Always, with the job cuts, it has something to do with “optimizing cost structure” and “supporting the strategic plan.”

Full article here.

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After Hours 10_11

I saw this fascinating microscopic picture of a snowflake – absolutely mind-blowing. That got me on a kick to find others: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Amazing.

More winter (I know, it’s barely fall!) – the dramatic effects of a Swiss ice storm.

After several months of absence in the on-line video world, this classic Stephen Colbert clip is back, about the re-branding of AT&T. Hysterical.

Bad “training.”

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Can an old antibiotic be used to reduce stroke damage? Fascinating potential resurrection/re-purposing of an older drug.

Glaxo announces its succession plan at the top: new CEO named.

Merck gets a high rating from primary care physicians.

Teva gets a go-ahead for generic Actonel.

From the rumor mill…Pfizer looking over Sanofi??

Wyeth going after the hot flash market.

IMS data screw-up – some reps may get their bonuses pulled back. Not a popular idea!

BusinessWeek does an overview of the sleep drug marketplac…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Drugs from a toxic hellhole – how to find possible new treatments in the unlikeliest of locations!

Heart attack prevention may continue long after statin use is discontinued!

Who is the best Biopharma employer? See how your company ranks…

Are pharma marketing tactics actually effective with physicians? This research says no.

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I will begin this book review with a confession – I have been negligent.

One of the co-authors of this book kindly forwarded me a copy months ago, and it sat on my “To Read” pile for far too long. A couple weeks back, I determined to read it. And a quick read it was.

This book follows along in the trail of such management/self-improvement/leadership books as “The One Minute Manager,” in that it uses an extended parable – a fictitious case study – to make its main points.

As is usually the case with such books, there is nothing new under the sun – only packaging of timeless truths. However, that is not to undermine the value of being reminded of these principles, because the fact is, we often know a lot more than we practice.

This little volume encourages the reader to win over and motivate co-workers through caring behaviors (which often precede caring feelings). The three step process is Win them Over, Blow them Away, and Keep them Revved. Some will look down their noses at these simple teachings, dismissing them as empty platitudes, but perhaps a reading of this recent Forbes article (on showing appreciation) will help reinforce the point. In my experience, the positive power of caring and appreciating colleagues and subordinates in the workplace is a make-or-break issue.

If you, as a manager, are experiencing a work environment that is dysfunctional, and you suspect that just maybe you may be part of the problem, this book can help point one way forward.


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This post is meant to promote discussion. I’m not going to presume to think that I have anything close to all the answers. But a discussion needs to take place about the current sales model in pharma.

It’s common knowledge that the current pharmaceutical sales force model is inefficient, expensive, and poorly designed to meet current healthcare practitioner business needs. So, here is the question…what would be the IDEAL model for a pharma field force that would actually meet both drug manufacturer, and healthcare practitioner needs?

I’ll throw one idea out there. Feel free to comment, critique, eviscerate, refine, make suggestions, and have a discussion in the comments.

Let’s look at the mass market field force model – sales reps visiting multiple doctors’ offices in a territory. That one rep is meant to provide clinical/product information, business/managed care information, samples, other company information, and build relationships with healthcare providers…all in the space of, say, 3-5 minutes of face-time (if they’re lucky) with any given doctor on a given day, during busy office hours.

Ummm…is something wrong with this picture? Can one person (often starting out quite young and inexperienced) actually do all this? In competition with the increased demands and decreased access marking doctors’ offices?

What if the model included 4 key players that serviced physicians? They would be:

  1. A territory account manager, whose role is to bring samples, discover needs, and coordinate all other channels of influence for that account (see below for other channels). This account manager would also give basic product information.
  2. A regional clinical specialist, who is more highly trained (say, a MSL-lite) and able to speak much more in-depth with physicians in the territory about the complex issues of the drug’s usage and clinical challenges (this person will add greater value because much more time is spent acquiring deeper knowledge than just driving around doing “details.”)
  3. A regional business specialist, who is deeply trained in managed market issues and able to bring genuine in-depth value to the office staff about health plans, prior authorizations, reimbursement issues, etc.
  4. An on-line detail rep who is available for off-hours (I said off-hours, not off-label!) promotional discussions with doctors, when significant interaction time is much more likely.

What are the advantages of a coordinated structure like this?

  • The account manager would cover a larger territory, need to be somewhat less trained initially (they now have “experts” on their team backing them up), and would have new avenues of professional growth that could keep them in the field (they could become product or business experts). This role is now partially sales rep, partially account manager and partially team coordinator.
  • The on-line resource would greatly increase the opportunity for getting (virtual) face time for product messaging, esp. during non-office hours (nights and weekends).
  • The pharma company would be providing genuine, in-depth value by having clinical and business specialists available for visits.
  • If one member of the team is promoted or leaves, there is still continuity with the account, as the team is multi-faceted.

OK, there’s one idea. I’m sure many holes can poked in it. What would you come up with if you had to design the “ideal” setup from scratch??

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