Turn the Page - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Turn the Page
Changes in ethics and expectations are driving the way pharma interacts with medical publishers.


Pharmaceutical Executive


Figuring out the online model is all the more important given that subscriptions for print medical journals are declining. "We find that some subscribers are dropping the print and taking the online-only subscription," says Lenne P. Miller, senior director of publications for the Endocrine Society. "That leads us to an interesting situation for advertising. So far, companies have not embraced the Web as an ad vehicle the way they have embraced tabloids, journals, and medical magazines driven by print circulation."

Of course, some journals are doing online well, particularly those that were electronic-only from inception. Medscape General Medicine, for example, uses Internet capabilities to enhance the reader experience. "We use multimedia so readers can see how important the content is to the author presenting it—and that really engages our audience," says Steve Zatz, MD, EVP of Professional Information Services and Chief Medical Officer for WebMD.

New formats Journal advertising still remains largely driven by product launches. Because of that, the products FDA approves in 2005 will drive the success of some journals—and the struggles of others. "Specialty publications continue to be stronger than multi-specialty journals," says Art Wilschek, director of worldwide ad sales for the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

Dougherty also notes there is a change in companies' ad mixes. "In eliminating waste, they are doing more advertorials and other projects, because those programs tend to be more targeted in terms of editorial content and distribution."

The search for ROI makes it more important than ever for journal publishers to inform pharma about the value of journal advertising. To that end, Wilschek says AMP is looking into new research that will model hundreds of products' promotional mixes over five years.

"This will be better received [than the RAPP and ARP studies] because it will show product managers how to optimize their promotional mix," Wilschek says. "They can go to the individual product level and see how the brand and its competitors are doing with regard to promotional effectiveness. This could be the best overall tool for the industry to put together its promotion and use its money effectively—we'll know in the next few months if it's going to happen."

Open Access Clinical trial registries, new online models, and NIH's new policy requesting that government-funded researchers publish their results in PubMedCentral.gov/, point to the expansion of access to research for physicians, researchers, and the public. Those kinds of initiatives, coupled with libraries being stretched to pay for the high-priced specialty journals, have heightened the demand for open access journals. However, the groundswell of support for that model comes not from readers, but from the research community and government, according to Jennifer Kilpatrick, Slack's editorial director of journals. And pharma needs to understand the potential implications.

"The idea behind journals is that they are subsidized on prepaid subscriptions," Weislogel says. "If people get whatever they want without paying for it, it totally undermines the subscription model."

To get more data on how open access can work, Oxford Journals, a division of Oxford University Press, announced it will experiment with an open-access model that shifts the cost of publishing to authors. "It must achieve the dual goals of maximizing access to research without undermining the quality and integrity of the journals themselves," says Martin Richardson, director of Oxford Journals.

"From three questionnaires, we know a large percentage of authors are willing and able to pay publication charges for open access," Richardson says. "It's possible there will be a general perception that [costs will create more reliance on pharma companies for dollars to sponsor studies]. However, the solution to this is to adopt a policy of transparency, using clear declarations within the published articles about who has written them, and who has sponsored the research, and the publication charges."


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