The pace of deal-making in marketing research has quickened, as firms prepare for new regulation that could affect HCPs’ survey participation.

M3, a division of Sony, has partnered with Epocrates, creating what they call the world’s largest verified physician and healthcare provider panel, with reach totaling more than 1.7 million physicians globally.

Last month, Physicians Interactive and WorldOne merged their US-based healthcare marketing research panels. The combination let World One, which was stronger offshore than in the US, bulk up its domestic panel, which now has 300,000+ AMA-verified physicians amid a network of a million HCPs.

In December, GfK said it was acquiring Knowledge Networks, a US-based provider of digital research, saying it would combine Knowledge Networks’ Physicians’ Consulting Network panel with its US healthcare panel.

“Research companies are looking to get closer and closer to physicians mostly because the response rate with marketing research with physicians is going down,” said Craig Overpeck, COO of M3’s market research division M3 Global Research.

But Richard Vanderveer, CEO of research firm rbv3, said since panels are typically opt in, they “blunt the reluctance issue.” However, “As the Sunshine Act rolls out, and as large practices forbid their members to do [marketing research], reluctance to join panels will likely increase.”