In general those who have nothing to say contrive to spend the longest time in doing it” said American poet, James Russell Lowell
But when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, companies have plenty to say but less and less time and opportunity to convey or control the message. Amid news this week that Pfizer is providing a $3 million grant to Stanford University for CME programs, with no strings attached, it is clear that drug companies are facing some of the greatest challenges in their history.
Although there are pockets of real growth and development, worldwide revenues are dropping. After a series of public relations disasters, the industry’s reputation is tarnished. And despite an estimated $70 billion worth of drugs going off patent globally by 2012, pipelines hold fewer and fewer truly innovative new products.
Then there’s diminishing physician interactions due to an increasingly restrictive regulatory environment, along with the increasing power payers have over the market’s access to drugs. The ever-growing number of “no see” doctors is a challenge for every pharmaceutical company’s sales and marketing departments. Even those doctors who would like to see reps find themselves unable to do so either due to lack of time or strict institutional policies. With lunches, dinners and other forms of hospitality now all but banned, the question is: How do you talk when physicians won’t or can’t listen?