We all know that the pharmaceutical sales model is being seriously re-thought. Every business model needs periodic review, to see if it continues to be a value-add, or if, in fact, it is losing effectiveness.
The interrupt-driven model of having drug reps come to doctors’ offices for fewer and fewer minutes of discussion, plus dropping off of samples, is rapidly losing market favor. It’s costly and increasingly inefficient for the drug companies, and it fills offices with non-paying people jockeying for time and attention in a marketplace where both are scarce.
So is there a better way? The industry is experimenting – with things like e-detailing and the like. And healthcare professionals are experimenting – for instance, many of them are simply barring reps from the premises.
One start-up (contract sales) services company that I’ve been talking to has an interesting model – make the process doctor-driven. The (contract) reps are called in by the doctor’s office when needed for drug sample replenishment, and they are not there to sell, but to drop off samples and acquire an e-signature (tablet). The tablet also has software that the doctor pages through to request more information, set up an appointment with a trained sales rep, schedule and e-detail, contact a Medical Affairs person, etc.
I could see this approach having value for drugs that are near the end of their patent cycle, when promotional efforts are going to be scaled back, but a drug manufacturer still wants to have a presence in the marketplace. There may be other places for a contract services approach like this as well. But the major point is, all contact is driven by the healthcare professional. And there is potentially a big gain in efficiency – highly-trained reps are not idling away time hoping and praying to see 8 docs a day for a few milliseconds each.
What do you think? Does this have value? Serious drawbacks? Let me know your thoughts! (stevew at impactiviti.com)
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