Are Pharmaceutical Marketing and Sales Targeting Pharmacists?
In an earlier post we discussed the role of the clinical pharmacist in the evolving new healthcare market. Medication therapy management as required by CMS as a part of Medicare Part D plans is a good example of where and how pharmacists can and are expected to help improve adherence and therefore clinical outcomes while potentially lowering overall healthcare costs. Given the healthcare failure statistics we previously discussed it’s hard to imagine that medication therapy management really gets all that much attention from pharmacists or pharmaceutical marketers.
A recent featured article in Health Benefit News highlights the success WellPoint has experienced in a pilot program to enlist and pay pharmacists for more attentive “medication therapy management.” They were able to demonstrate increases in adherence which not surprisingly translated to better control of disease symptoms for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus. While pharmacy costs went up they also “saw a great reduction in hospitalizations.” Overall, in the one year study, they saw cost neutral results, but concluded “it’s going to take more than a one-year time frame to see dramatic changes in cost.”
The healthcare market (with pressure from government, payers and insurers) is getting more aggressive about delivering better clinical outcomes as one way to help increase quality and lower the cost of care. So whether it is through Accountable Care Organizations, Integrated Healthcare Systems, or just enhancing outcomes from solo or group practice settings, I believe pharmacists will play an increasingly important role in medication therapy management, especially adherence-enhancing programs. Pharmaceutical marketers who view the retail or hospital pharmacist as merely a dispenser of medications and cursory counseling will be putting their products at risk of competitive erosion and never meeting their full commercial potential in the evolving new healthcare market.
So what’s a pharmaceutical marketer to do?
Well, how many pharmaceutical marketers have assessed (not just mentally speculated) how their product might perform in this type of a trial or study? How many have commissioned similar types of studies? How many marketers have partnered with healthcare provider systems to determine the adherence value (clinical outcome differences) between adherent and non-adherent patients and what the value proposition could be? How many marketers have actually met with pharmacists about their evolving role? How many have started to work with pharmacists on developing educational programs and materials for their products? How many have pharmacist training programs for their patient education programs? More importantly, how many pharmacists are considered high priority calls for your sales representatives?
I think I just heard somebody say…”of course we are doing all this.”
Great. Now, are you doing it as just another marketing tactic?
I might suggest that if you are doing it to genuinely help patients, pharmacists, and healthcare provider systems achieve their goals, you will find a much more receptive audience, ready to embrace your efforts and make meaningful contributions to your product success without feeling compromised. email@example.com