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Looking back at the pharmaceutical marketing research professional conferences I have attended in 2010, I am sensing a bit of schizophrenia in the focus of our profession.  
Put quite simply, many presentations at these conferences focused on tweaking methodologies that have been employed for years. At a recent conference, for example, I attended a session on qualitative research in which picture- and word-association techniques were offered as important tools for eliciting brand personalities of prescription products, including chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of breast cancer.
Another session revealed the results of a project, variations of which have been conducted dozens of times over recent years, that showed individual patients exhibited the characteristics of one of six different compliance segments in sticking with, or not sticking with, their long-term drug regimens.
In the former case, we were unfortunately not told how to make marketing use of the finding that one of the two agents, which by the way were chemically equivalent, had more of a masculine brand personality, while the other was seen as more feminine. As an aside, as a cancer survivor myself, I sat in the session and pondered whether I wanted my physicians selecting my therapy based on “brand personality.”
Juxtapose such research with the increasing discussion of comparative effectiveness research, an emerging model in which new drugs must demonstrate they are significantly more effective than the current gold standard in order to be included on formulary and be reimbursed (if appropriately priced!).
Pick one! Which type of research do you think we, as healthcare research professionals, should focus on in 2011?
Richard Vanderveer is chief solutions officer, rbV3
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