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It is with great pleasure, anticipation and, admittedly, some trepidation that I write this first in a monthly series of observations on pharmaceutical marketing research and its future.

My pleasure is generated by the fact that MM&M has recognized the essential role marketing research will play in the future of the pharmaceutical industry. 

The anticipation stems from the fact that my focus will be on the “big pieces” and not on specific methodologies and tactical issues. Most of the interesting things I see happening relate to issues—such as “Should projects be used as a conduit for reporting Adverse Events with our clients' products?” and “Why is patient compliance with chronic medications so poor?”—rather than new developments in multidimensional scaling.  Thus,  this column should be of interest not just to practicing marketing researchers, but also to other professionals involved in the generation and execution of pharma marketing and sales strategies.  I am genuinely looking forward to sharing my thoughts on these topics.

Finally, my trepidation comes from the fact that the industry is now under tremendous pressure from many sources, including the decline in genuinely new medicines, increased governmental scrutiny and negative public relations.  Moreover, companies are deeply ingrained in ways of doing business that, while adaptive in the days when they were developed, have now become anachronistic. Worse yet, I see no forces banding together in the pharma marketing and marketing research spheres to work toward a paradigm shift that really matters. Thus, I am concerned that we will continue to do business as usual in the face of this rapidly changing environment, and wind up doing too little too late to effect a change that really matters, when it matters. The focus of this column will be to make sure that this does not happen.

Richard Vanderveer is group CEO, GfK US Healthcare Companies

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