Less Dominant, More RelevantTo be successful in today's economic climate, pharmas need to focus on how macro industry conditions are playing out at the micro, interactional level. This micro focus allows pharmas to better position themselves as the industry narrative changes from dominance to relevance, where the future of brand marketing is characterized less by blockbusters and more by battles for the hearts and minds of physicians and patients. By monitoring the authentic dialogue between physicians and patients, pharmas can position themselves as relevant participants in the health care exchange.
In order to become more relevant, pharmas will need to lay down stakes with smaller, more targeted physician and patient populations, developing a grounded understanding of the needs, values, attitudes, and beliefs of specific groups of physicians treating specific groups of patients with unique physiologic profiles, life situations, and health attitudes. Pharmas that fail to position themselves in terms of relevancy risk being viewed as intrusive in the physician–patient relationship, jeopardizing the physician–pharma/brand relationship.
Here's how brand teams can leverage patient-physician dialogue to overcome a few of today's most challenging industry issues.
The financial burden of healthcare, particularly in the current economic climate, is significant. Meanwhile, the acceleration of patent expirations will result in significant decreases in Big Pharma revenues. With approximately $157 billion in sales exposed to generic erosion by 2012, pharmaceutical companies will face revenue losses of 2 to 40 percent. Physicians and patients are keenly aware of the cost of patent-protected treatments and of the time frames in which generic options will become available. And patients are not afraid to ask for generic alternatives.
Even when generic alternatives are not available, it is not uncommon for physicians to provide patients with a time line of when generics will become available. This tendency of physicians to simply acquiesce to requests for generics suggests that they are either unwilling or unable to reasonably argue the need to remain on branded therapy. Marketers can help brands become more relevant to the patient–physician interaction and maximize true brand potential at the point of care by: