The Buddy System

Jun 01, 2008

Jean-Marc Neimetz
To even a casual industry observer, it should come as no surprise to discover that in a recent Capgemini study, "Customer Value Integration: How to Re-Tune Pharma's Commercial Model in Light of Changing Stakeholder Influence," 45 percent of pharmaceutical executives surveyed said that they were responding to an increasingly tough market by engaging in "significant reduction of sales reps," and more use of technology. Also unsurprising is the fact that 41 percent indicated that their companies were increasing partnerships with payers. As the sales force shrinks and market challenges grow, pharma needs to build strong, trusting relationships with doctors, patients, payers, HMOs, and other influential groups. The study's authors recommend that pharma actively seek opportunities to collaborate with these increasingly powerful, nontraditional industry stakeholders.

The survey also highlights a "perception gap" between how executives view the current market and how they act in response to it. In other words, knowing the end goal doesn't always translate to pursuing that goal.

For further insight on the study, Pharm Exec spoke to Jean-Marc Neimetz, vice president and life sciences industry team leader for Capgemini in North America. Neimetz hails from France, where he obtained his degree from the Paris Business School. Before joining Capgemini, he was a deputy representative at Credit Commercial De France in Mumbai, India.

Today, with over 17 years of international consulting experience, Neimetz frequently advises pharma and biotech companies on marketing and sales effectiveness, corporate strategy and organization, and other issues.

Who are the major stakeholders in the industry, and has pharma begun to reach out to them?

Today, there are many stakeholders who influence the pharma industry and prescribing behavior: physicians, managed care, patients, and government. Because of that complexity, pharmaceutical companies are struggling to create a proposition that is differentiated to address the needs of different stakeholders

Pharmaceutical companies don't really know the customer well, and it makes life more difficult for them. Their approach to getting to know the customer better is to capture more and more information during interactions with the customer. It's great to know more about your customer. But it can be very easy to become swept up in getting a lot of data and analysis. When you look at the ability of the pharma industry to respond quickly to this data and change its message swiftly ... well, it's not an industry that moves extremely fast. Therefore, the industry is going to struggle with this transformation.

In order to serve its customers' needs, pharma has to build tighter relationships with them. We've seen the beginning of partnerships between pharmaceutical companies and managed care organizations in the area of drug development. We're beginning to see pharma companies consulting with payers ahead of time to make sure that if they were to bring a particular product to the table, the pharma would be reimbursed at a reasonable level.

And pharmaceutical companies are absolutely starting to partner with patients and focus groups, especially in specific disease areas. In Europe, we ran a patient access initiative where we brought representatives from the industry, regulatory authority groups from Europe, and also patient advocacy groups to the same table to discuss how to better meet the needs of these different communities.

That initiative was really groundbreaking. I think it was the first time we had such a structured and open discussion with those different stakeholders all trying to see and understand each other's perspective, and trying to see what should be done in order to make the system better.

For pharma companies, the questions are: How do we find ways to fund basic research in areas that are very difficult to break into? How do we work better with regulatory authorities to get our product to the market? For patients, the main question is: How do we make sure that our needs are known and taken into account during development? In response to these questions, we designed a few initiatives that are now under discussion with those same groups.

Do you think pharma companies actually want to create partnerships with patients, or do they just pay lip service to the idea?

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