Merck using video detailing to expand marketing efforts, cut costs

Merck has expanded its marketing efforts into video detailing as part of its new commercial model, global human health president Peter Loescher said. “We have seen video detailing over the past 10 years…We have created a state of the art video service for physicians who want to communicate with us in this way. There is (already) very good segmentation under way.” Loescher told investors during a meeting at Merck’s Whitehouse Station, NJ, headquarters last week. Merck’s video detailing efforts aim to serve as a cost-effective way to interact with large physician offices, rather than through large sales forces, Loescher said. “We have identified targets. We have scaled this up to 50,000 physician offices. Theses physicians want to communicate with us, so this is a critical moment,” he said. In addition to saving money, Loescher reported that video detailing had increased the quality of average physician interactions. He said, while the average call by a sales rep lasts 4.5 minutes, video detailing has increased interaction time by 10%. Merck began pilot testing the new video detailing model in 2006 with the launches of human papilloma virus vaccine Gardasil and Type 2 diabetes treatment Januvia. Merck expects “significant cost effectiveness with this new means of communication,” Loescher said. Merck estimates put the average cost of a traditional sales rep detail to specialists at $120 and to primary care physicians at $50. In comparison, Merck estimates the cost per video detail to be about $40. Loescher said Merck does not plan to increase the size of its sales force, despite the recent launches of Gardasil and Januvia. “Overall we will keep the head count structure flat.”