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Pharmaceutical marketing is the business of advertising or otherwise promoting the sale of pharmaceuticals or drugs.
Additional recommended knowledge
The marketing of medication has a long history. The sale of miracle cures, many with little real potency, has always been common. Marketing of legitimate non-prescription medications, such as pain relievers or allergy medicine, has also long been practiced. Mass marketing of prescription medications was rare until recently, however. It was long believed that since doctors made the selection of drugs, mass marketing was a waste of resources; specific ads targeting the medical profession were thought to be cheaper and just as effective. This would involve ads in professional journals and visits by sales staff to doctor’s offices and hospitals. An important part of these efforts was marketing to medical students.
Direct and indirect marketing to health care providers
Physicians are perhaps the most important players in pharmaceutical sales. They write the prescriptions that determine which drugs will be used by the patient. Influencing the physician is the key to pharmaceutical sales. Historically, this was done by a large pharmaceutical sales force. A medium-sized pharmaceutical company might have a sales force of 1000 representatives. The largest companies have tens of thousands of representatives around the world. Sales representatives called upon physicians regularly, providing information and free drug samples to the physicians. This is still the approach today; however, economic pressures on the industry are causing pharmaceutical companies to rethink the traditional sales process to physicians.
Pharmaceutical companies are developing processes to influence the people who influence the physicians. There are several channels by which a physician may be influenced, including self-influence through research, peer influence, direct interaction with pharmaceutical companies, patients, and public or private insurance companies.
There are a number of firms that specialize in data and analytics for pharmaceutical marketing.
Physicians discover pharmaceutical information from such sources as the Physician's Desk Reference and online sources such as PDR.net, as well as via PDAs with applications.
They also rely upon pharmaceutical-branded e-detailing sites, pharmaceutical sales and non-sales representatives, and scholarly literature. Scholarly literature can be in the form of medical journal article reprints, often delivered by sales representatives at their place of employment or at conference exhibitions.
Key opinion leaders (KOL), or "thought leaders", are respected individuals, such as prominent medical school faculty, who influence physicians through their professional status. Pharmaceutical companies generally engage key opinion leaders early in the drug development process to provide advocacy and key marketing feedback. Some pharmaceutical companies identify key opinion leaders through direct inquiry of physicians (primary research).
Physicians acquire information through informal contacts with their colleagues, including social events, professional affiliations, common hospital affiliations, and common medical school affiliations. Some pharmaceutical companies identify influential colleagues through commercially available prescription writing and patient level data.
Direct physician contact with pharmaceutical sales representatives
Currently, there are approximately 100,000 pharmaceutical sales reps in the United States  pursuing some 830,000 pharmaceutical prescribers. A pharmaceutical representative will often try to see a given physician every few weeks. Representatives often have a call list of about 200 physicians with 120 targets that should be visited in 4-6 week cycles.
Because of the large size of the pharmaceutical sales force, the organization, management, and measurement of effectiveness of the sales force are significant business challenges. Management tasks are usually broken down into the areas of physician targeting, sales force size and structure, sales force optimization, call planning, and sales forces effectiveness.
Marketers attempt to identify the universe of physicians most likely to prescribe a given drug. Historically, this was done by measuring the number of total prescriptions (TRx) and new prescriptions (NRx) per week that each physician writes. This information is collected by commercial vendors. The physicians are then "deciled" into ten groups based on their writing patterns. Higher deciles are more aggressively targeted. Some pharmaceutical companies use additional information such as:
Data for drugs prescribed in a hospital are not usually available at the physician level. Advanced analytic techniques are used to value physicians in a hospital setting.
Opinion Leader Influence Mapping
Alternatives to segmenting physicians purely on the basis of prescribing do exist, and marketers can call upon strategic partners who specialize in delineating which characteristics of true opinion leadership, a physician does or does not possess. Such analyses can help guide marketers in how to optimize KOL engagements as bona fide advisors to a brand, and can help shape clinical development and clinical data publication plans for instance, ultimately advancing patient care.
Sales force size and structure
Marketers must decide on the appropriate size of a sales force needed to sell a particular portfolio of drugs to the target universe. Design the optimal reach (how many physicians to see) and frequency (how often to see them) for each individual physician. Decide how many sales representatives to devote to office and group practice and how many to devote to hospital accounts.
Private and public insurers
Public and private insurers affect the writing of prescriptions by physicians through formularies that restrict the number and types of drugs that the insurer will cover. Not only can the insurer affect drug sales by including or excluding a particular drug from a formulary, they can affect sales by tiering, or placing bureaucratic hurdles to prescribing certain drugs. In January 2006, the U.S. instituted a new public prescription drug plan through its Medicare program. Known as Medicare Part D, this program engages private insurers to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for the placement of drugs on tiered formularies.
Direct marketing to patients
Since the late 1970s, direct-to-patient marketing of prescription drugs has become important. Many patients will inquire about, or even demand to receive, a medication they have seen advertised on television. In the United States, recent years have seen an increase in mass media advertisements for pharmaceuticals. Expenditures on direct-to-consumer (DTC pharmaceutical advertising) have more than quintupled in the last seven years since the FDA changed the guidelines, from $700 million in 1997 to more than $4 billion in 2004.
In the United States, marketing and distribution of pharmaceuticals is regulated by the federal Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pharmaceutical_marketing". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|