Vantage Point

For pharmaceutical marketing research, I believe that 2007 constituted a tipping point. Numerous examples of this phenomenon could be offered and actively debated. For several years now, attendance at our professional organization meetings has been declining. But in 2007, levels hit new highs.

On the other hand, regulatory forces have been threatening our very ability to conduct research with physicians and patients. In 2007, we got clobbered by the need to report adverse events encountered during marketing research, state laws that make it difficult or impossible to conduct marketing research and an “opt out” provision that allows physicians to exclude their individual prescribing data from marketing databases.

For years, we have been hearing about the day, sometime in the future, when the developing countries would become significant forces in the pharmaceutical marketplace. In 2007, we see a reality in which the US has fallen from about 60%of the world's pharmaceutical spend to about 40%, with significant interest and activity, not just lip service, now emerging in the developing countries.

In 2007 we were presented by predictions from such credible sources as PricewaterhouseCoopers that while the top line of the industry worldwide is likely to double between now and 2020, much of this growth will come from developing countries that cannot begin to support the pricing levels we enjoy in the US.  As a result, we will need to significantly increase our R&D and marketing efficiencies if there is to be any bottom line of profitability. With other reports indicating that marketing research revenues in the US fell 25% last year, it is clear that this past year was one of significant change in our business.

Hold on tight for 2008 — it's likely to be a wild ride!

Richard Vanderveer is group CEO, GfK US Healthcare Companies

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