Contract sales firm PDI buys digital shop Group DCA

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Contract sales giant PDI acquired digital agency Group DCA, seeking to bolster its non-personal promotion capabilities.

“Pharma is now really beginning to deploy beyond the traditional model,” said PDI CEO Nancy Lurker, referring to e-detailing and other forms of digital communication to healthcare professionals. “But it's not an either/or proposition. The integration of live and non-personal together becomes a very powerful combination, along with knowing what to deliver to whom, and when and where.”

PDI paid $25 million upfront for the privately-owned shop, with an additional $30 million in benchmark payments to follow over the next two years.

An 11-year-old agency with a staff of around 60 and revenues of $18-$20 million, Group DCA will remain wholly intact, continuing to function as a self-standing agency under the leadership of co-CEOs Jack Davis and Robert Likoff, who will report to Lurker. The agency will remain in its offices in Parsipany, NJ, several miles from PDI. Lurker said only a small number of posts will be eliminated as the companies consolidate services.

In addition to live sales teams, PDI, founded in 1990, offers teledetailing services and peer interactive med ed programs. Group DCA brings to the table e-detailing, a proprietary software called DIAGRAM and a panel of 200,000 healthcare professionals. Lurker called the panel “a unique program” that provides valuable response data.

“A lot of agencies are missing that backbone,” she added.

Non-personal or remote forms of promotion to healthcare professionals constitute a small but fast-growing slice of the promotional pie. Pfizer nearly doubled spending on e-detailing for the year through November 2009, to $27 million, according to SDI. Lurker said that's being fueled in part by the adoption of electronic medical records, which is in turn speeding adoption of smartphones and PDAs among healthcare pro holdouts.

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