Small pharma sees obstacles to med ed: HMC panel

Specialty pharmaceutical companies view medical education as an important part of their overall strategic communication plan but see obstacles to implementation, noted executives taking part in a panel discussion. “Med ed companies are strategic partners for us,” said Peter Lankau, president and chief executive, Endo Pharmaceuticals, at a CEO roundtable today in Manhattan. But, he said, “Medical education is a tough area, simply because of what OIG and all of the states attorneys general are looking at in terms of the promotional activities of companies and how that is translated.” The roundtable, part of an HMC Council industry forum, gave specialty pharma chiefs a chance to sound off on how they are innovating in sales and marketing, as well as trends and challenges in communicating with customers. Executives from Valeant Pharmaceuticals and King Pharmaceuticals, also on the panel, said they also view med ed as an important communications tool but inferred that activities are getting harder to execute. Marty Cearnal, HMC Council president, said pharma's cautious mood is one reason for a slow-down in grant-giving. “When the environment is uncertain, one thing happens: decisions are delayed,” he said. Advertising agencies and their educational divisions “have always done a good job at execution,” added Endo's Lankau. “Our job is to try and make them more effective strategic partners” in reaching prescribers and payers.