Can Pharmaceuticals Legally Sell Drugs?

This is the question that I asked myself (yet again) when I read that two major pharmaceuticals have (yet again) evidenced that the only way that pharmaceuticals seem able to sell durgs is by doing something illegal. Amgen recently plead guilty to illegally marketing Aranesp for off-label uses and will pay $150 million in criminal … Continue reading

Drug Sales Reps Need New Tools

In a recent Insight Report, “In India, gift-giving drives drug makers’ marketing”, Reuters reports: Sales representatives for Abbott Laboratories Inc’s Indian subsidiaries know what it takes to get a doctor to prescribe the drugs they market: a coffee maker, perhaps, or some cookware, or maybe a vacuum cleaner. These are among the many gifts for … Continue reading

When Doctors’ Orders Are Not Followed: Are Co-Pay Cards Kick-Backs or Just Good Marketing?

Co-pay cards provide patients a discount off all or part of the co-pay that they would otherwise have to pay. Saving money — it sounds like a good idea for patients, right? Community Catalyst, an “organization working to build the consumer and community leadership that is required to transform the American health system”, disagrees. Community … Continue reading

How can pharmaceuticals get their drugs in front of doctors?

How indeed? Anytime a pharmaceutical tries to influence doctors it will get “slammed” by the media and by the public (this of course is also true for device manufacturers). Any type of “business” relationship will be frowned upon … unless it’s non-branded. In a recent study published in Health Marketing Quarterly, “Nonbranded or Branded Direct-to-Consumer Prescription … Continue reading

Is good pharmaceutical marketing possible?

14 years ago (on August 8, 1997, no less), the FDA issued guidelines that allowed for drug manufacturers to advertise. As the NY Times reported that day, Michael Friedman (then FDA’s lead deputy commissioner) had this is to say about the reason for the guidelines: Today’s action can help promote greater consumer awareness about prescription … Continue reading

Are doctors the forgotten factor in improving patient adherence?

Doctors almost seem to be the forgotten player in the healthcare system — perhaps it’s because of the perception that doctors are just pawns of the pharmaceutical industry. For example, there has been a steady stream of news about doctors refusing to see pharmaceutical sales reps and cutting financial ties with pharmaceuticals. Or, perhaps it’s … Continue reading

Can a Patient Adherence Program be Self-Funded?

According to the report “Ensuring Profitable Patient Adherence Programs: Using Analytics and Metrics to Improve the Bottom Line”, pharmaceutical companies spend nearly 97% of their marketing budget to capture initial market share.  This means that 3% of their marketing budget is devoted to on-going efforts, like patient adherence. As the report’s author, Dr Andree Bates, … Continue reading

Telling patients to get better is easier than listening to what they think

The current (and sadly most used) approach to communications is to push information at us — e.g., TV advertising, PR campaigns, and pharmacy refill reminders. It reminds me of the cartoon (below), which unfortunately epitomizes this approach (my apologies to the cartoonist, as I don’t know where I got it). You can easily imagine the … Continue reading

Pharmaceutical company promotions to nurses raise concerns

The American Journal of Managed Care recently published the results of an interesting survey of nurse practitioners’ (NPs) interactions with pharmaceutical industry promotional activities — “Under the Radar”: Nurse Practitioner Prescribers and Pharmaceutical Industry Promotions As the researchers point out, NPs have been operating “under the radar”. NPs are generally allowed to prescribe medications (for a state-by-state comparison and references, … Continue reading

Is it alright to pay people to blog about a product?

Abbott recently put out an app for the iPhone regarding its infant formula Similac. The app “can easily track baby’s eating, sleeping … diaper changes … [and] predict the next feeding time”. Now the controversy of formula substituting for breast milk is an old one. My dad, who was with UNICEF, was one of the … Continue reading