Summit turns spotlight on MD needs

Jordan Safirstein
Jordan Safirstein

The New York ePharma Summit, which ran from March 4-6, included the usual list of topics that marketers roll through when talking about the promotional space—becoming customer-centric, what to fear/anticipate over the next five years, and providing quality content.

Yet, it was not until a Tuesday end-of-day panel comprised of doctors and a Pfizer executive that an issue that had  otherwise not been directly addressed got a central spot on the agenda: providing doctors with what they need, as opposed to offering them what pharma thinks they should want.

The panel, which included cardiologist Jordan Safirstein of Morristown Medical Center's Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute, and Kecia Gaither, Ob/Gyn and maternal fetal medicine director of Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Care in Brooklyn, concluded that the split between doctors' needs and pharma's agenda is at least part of the reason why the custom tablet detail is a solid, but not on-target effort.

Safirstein said that in developing its efforts, pharma needs to expand its thinking outside the range of its immediate interests—such as brand-centric thinking—and transform itself into a true resource. This means going beyond such simple offerings as patient co-pay cards. “No one ever says ‘Thank God you gave me that co-pay coupon, Doc,'” he said, noting that these cards do trigger an unwanted reaction when they end up in a stack that have expired and are of no use to patients. His solution: integrate coupons into EHRs so there's no effort and no patient alienation.

“Physicians really have no say anymore for drugs they want on the formulary,” Gaither said. The Brooklyn physician laid out the mindset pharma needs to adopt if it wants to see its drug pitches make it across the threshold. She recalled a patient for whom she had to advocate a higher-priced medication which would help fetal lung development in a 24-hour period as opposed to a cheaper drug which would take 48 hours. She won by noting that caring for an infant with underdeveloped lungs in the neonatal intensive care unit would cost more than the higher-priced drug.