Archive for October, 2007

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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What seemed, at first, to be a terrific marketing idea ended in disaster this week, when, in the dead of night, a life-sized Hexubera “bong” was installed to replace the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

exubera-pisa.JPG“We thought they were just putting up a banner or something,” howled Guido Marchesi, curator of the Pisa site, who thought that a promotional tie-in with another towering design fluke would bring some much-needed new revenue. “Instead, I come this morning and some massive bong has replaced my Tower. Although, I must say, my blood sugar level today seems better.”

According to N. Hale Sulin, Brand Manager for Hexubera, “Perhaps we were a bit over-the-top with this one, but hey, the dimensions were about the same for the Tower and for our delivery mechanism, and no-one can deny that the old relic needed some updating. Why not replace it with a modern example of remarkable design? Plus, we’ve got a few extra of these beasts in inventory – we’re checking with NASA now about first stage rocket needs.”

Local residents displayed a mixture of curiosity and outrage, some of them attempting to scale the massive bong in order to activate its insulin spray. After a few successes, a curious layer of snowy material covered the site, leading to a world-first insulin snowball-throwing contest.

“Wait ’til you see what the Lipitor brand manager has in mind for the LaBrea tar pits,” hinted Sulin. “We’ll be taking on that sticky cholesterol stuff once and for all…”

(credit to Pharma Giles for the idea on take-offs of the Exubera bong…)


The Pharma Side
Copyright 2007 Impactiviti LLC

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