Vantage Point: Marketing Support for Clinical Trials

Richard Vanderveer
Richard Vanderveer

In 2014, it is increasingly important for pharmaceutical companies to provide robust marketing support for their clinical trials.  While in the “good old days,” companies would often simply put studies into the field and hope for the best, it is increasingly clear that such a laissez-faire approach is far from optimal. It is estimated that 70% of clinical trials encounter one or more significant delays, with the average daily cost of such a delay being $1 million!

Companies that successfully avoid such pitfalls do so by being proactive. They prepare for the launch of a clinical trial exactly as they would prepare for the launch of a new product.  As the trial progresses, they follow the edict that “You must continuously sell your clinical trial to every one of its stakeholders!”

Specialized marketing research is increasingly used to support these marketing efforts. Stakeholders studied can be viewed as a “cascade” that flows downward from the company's own headquarters clinical team. These team members are typically multitasking, and trouble awaits a clinical study that cannot maintain their attention.  Clinical investigators, clinical research associates and referring physicians are also surveyed to find potential roadblocks. Patient recruitment materials are carefully scrutinized.

Clinical trials increasingly require such rigor.  Half of the 139 drugs approved by the FDA since 2009 were for rare diseases or cancer. Thus, certain specialties (e.g., oncologists) and rare-disease patients alike are besieged by avalanches of clinical trial invitations.

We are witnessing the emergence of a new way in which experienced marketers and marketing researchers can apply their skills. I am excited by these opportunities, and hope you are as well.

Richard Vanderveer is chief solutions officer, rbv3.