Docs go from bedside manner to biz manager

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Pharmas, and their sales reps, need to understand the health economics of a product in differing contexts, according to panelists at the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group's (PMRG) third annual meeting.

Concomitant evolutions—in payer structure, the physician's ability to influence the decision about what is prescribed, and managed care decisions—all effect the way brands should be marketed, said Matt Gray, brand insight director, cornerstone business unit, at AstraZeneca. “A front desk person does a lot more than what they used to do” in terms of decision-making, said Gray, a former sales rep.

“For us to keep walking in and saying ‘our product is better than Y,'” is insufficient, said Gray, adding that reps must be able to talk about how a product can be obtained—via formulary or otherwise—and a description of the outcomes. “It's not going to pay for us to say ‘The pill is blue' anymore,” said Gray.

Scott Schaeffer, a practicing family physician on the panel, said that while a focus on comparative effectiveness and the science behind products is important, a lot of decisions are still made “outside of the algorithm.” Ted Lawrence, CEO at Lawrence & Company, added that product economics aren't the last word, since if that were the case, “all hospital formularies would be the same.”

All the panelists agreed that communicating with an entire practice, on top of single physicians, is reflected in the services requested by clients.

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