Marketing to Professionals PDR Turns 60 - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Marketing to Professionals PDR Turns 60
A closer look at one of the best-known brands in healthcare.

Pharmaceutical Executive



PDR's Pilot Thomson PDR Executive Vice-president David Duplay talks about changes to drug labeling since 1944.
We're all searching for that one great idea. You know, the one that is so simple and so straightforward in its execution that it is immediately embraced by the market and little time has to pass before users wonder how they ever survived without it. Well, back in 1944, somebody had the great idea to put all drug labeling into one book, call it the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), and give it to doctors. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, healthcare professionals call PDR the pharmaceutical bible and stand by it as the trusted authority on referential drug information. However, PDR's story is more than the compendium that customers see today. In this article, David Duplay, PDR executive vice-president at Thomson, explains that the book tells the story of evolution in science, healthcare, and the practice of pharma marketing, and he looks forward to new opportunities.


That was then ...this is now
Pharm Exec: How did PDR get started? Duplay: In 1944, J. Morgan Jones had this "big idea" to provide physicians with labeling information for the medications they prescribed, and in 1947 he published the first edition of the PDR. The book immediately made a big splash because there was nothing on the market like it at the time. It also satisfied another requirement because in 1938 the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act required drugs to have adequate labeling for safe use.

What has changed—and what hasn't? PDR is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago for two reasons. First, companies that list their drugs in the PDR ensure that they meet the Learned Intermediary Doctrine regulatory requirement, which discharges their duty of care to patients by providing warnings to the prescribing physicians. Second, the strength of the PDR brand makes it an attractive marketing channel through which to distribute new science and other medical messages.


Quick Facts
The information in the PDR duplicates the FDA-approved labeling information. We take no editorial liberties—so that hasn't changed. And in some respects, the distribution channel hasn't changed either. We send one copy and two supplements to practicing physicians once a year for free.

What has changed is the breadth of our product portfolio. We've progressed from a single, innovative product to a fully integrated set of solutions, both online and in print. That allows physicians to make better prescribing decisions and pharma marketers to make better marketing decisions.

In addition, technology advances now enable us to update information in a more timely fashion. If there is a change in labeling information or a new drug is approved and the pharma company lists the product in our Addenda, we can immediately put it on PDR.net and mobilePDR so physicians have the information in real time.

What's the secret to PDR's success? We conduct a lot of customer research with physicians and pharma marketers so we understand their needs.

How has product labeling changed since 1947? Over the years, companies adhering to stricter regulations have increased the amount, detail, and complexity of product labeling information.


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