Last week, Microsoft invited me to attend the ePharma conference and assist them with moderating dinner discussion with Pharma executives. While I did report on the ePharma event, have not had much time to talk about the dinner. A little thing called the Stimulus Bill (ARRA) and the HITECH Act has consumed most of my time for the past week+.
The dinner, which was co-sponsored by Microsoft HealthVault and the consulting firm Razorfish brought together about a dozen executives from the pharma industry to discuss “patient engagement strategies.” I began with setting the stage, talking about the trends Chilmark Research is seeing at both a macro and micro level in the healthcare market and the implications of those trends to the pharma industry. Never did get through all of my introductory remarks as this was a lively crowd and quickly jumped straight into discussions that ranged from focused demographic campaigns, e.g., Wyeth & women’s health, to medication compliance, legal constraints (both real and perceived) and marketing investment models.
Following are my three key take-aways from that evening’s discussion:
- Pharma sector, and in particular the marketing departments are tightly regulated by their legal departments. Extreme fear, not necessarily unwarranted, of lawsuits. Result: Little innovation in marketing, what innovation that occurs is typically driven directly by the corner office who tells legal to make it happen.
- Industry spends billions to build a Brand around a specific bio-molecule/drug rather than building the company Brand, e.g., promote Prozac (or Cymbalta today) rather than Eli Lilly. What if Eli Lilly promoted their knowledge of depression and built a complete portfolio of depression related products and services – would this be a game changing move? This topic generated significant discussion but I came away with the impression that this marketing model is something Pharma is just not ready to adopt, at least for now. Wyeth’s Women’s Health initiative may portend a move in this direction.
- The pharma industry has spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars on research to understand what drives non-compliance to medication regimes. Despite all of this research and the number of techniques they have tried to improve compliance, success remains elusive. They are struggling mightily with this issue today and are not alone as compliance is a key component of most Disease Mgmt (DM) programs that both payers and employers promote.
A fascinating meeting with great contributions to the discussion from Razorfish and Microsoft representatives. Hopefully, the pharma execs in attendance received as much value from my participation as I did from theirs.