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At the recent PMRG conference, Dr. Glenna Crooks, president of Strategic Health Policy International, delivered an informative, yet daunting, presentation. Citing a report by Jonathan Peck, she predicted that within 20 years there would be no laws in the US protecting intellectual property. Thus, pharma companies would have the same problems here that they have in several other large markets, where profitability is drawn from efficient marketing and relationships, not from patent protection.

Dr. Crooks' second prediction was that pharmacists will play a bigger role in healthcare than they do today. Looking back several decades, pharmacists were once genuinely “learned intermediaries” in healthcare; we researched them just like physicians. We are largely out of touch with the knowledge, attitudes and practices of pharmacists and we must regain an understanding of what makes them tick and develop research-based programs to help ensure that their greater role helps us in our marketing efforts.

Last month, I strongly suggested that pharma marketing researchers should spend more time researching issues. One of the most important goals of our profession for the future is to develop a body of knowledge about each of our major stakeholders to inform us of their respective roles, activities and decision-making processes; wants, needs and motivations; joys and frustrations; and interactions with other players. We need to know what keeps them awake at night and what “lingo” they use.

As you plan your research, consider which stakeholders are most important to you, which you know the least about and make plans to learn about them. It can be hard, time-consuming work, but I assure you there is no more important research that you can do.  

Richard B. Vanderveer, PhD, is group CEO, GfK US Healthcare Companies

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