Public Relations: Desperately Seeking Value - Pharmaceutical Executive


Public Relations: Desperately Seeking Value
Regulatory angst cools growth in budgets for CME.

Pharmaceutical Executive

The blockbuster effect can also influence funding levels, says Lawrence Sherman, executive vice president for the Jobson Education Group. "Pharma companies are hands-off on the content of CME but selective about the areas they support," he says. "And they do have an interest—as do all of the stakeholders—in seeing that people who treat patients have the appropriate information so at the end of the day, patients are treated correctly." In years when blockbuster products like Lipitor or Viagra are introduced, he says, there's a climate of heightened interest. "That kind of year will be different from a year when there's not a lot of product-development activity."

New Physician Outreach Methods

But even in a time of high activity, CME providers still struggle to reach their targeted audience. "Doctors who have been out of school for more than five years are used to receiving invitations for CME events by hand delivery," Sherman says. "Now that some companies no longer allow their representatives to distribute invitations, there needs to be another way. You can have the best faculty in the world for your event, but if the right people don't know a program exists, they won't find it."

A third-party consulting industry has surfaced to make it easier for CME providers to reach their target audience in a fully compliant way. One service, known as DirecTeam CME, has its employees (who have pharma-sales backgrounds) contact doctors about upcoming educational programs. For example, a CME provider that wants rheumatologists to attend its program on new trends in the field would hire DirecTeam CME to arrange visits with rheumatologists to discuss the program's topics and speakers. Doctors who want to go are registered during that visit and doctors who want to think it over receive a follow-up visit. This approach generates an average of 12 percent registrations, compared with an average response rate of 2.61 for direct-mail campaigns, based on a study of 1,122 industry-specific campaigns by the Direct Marketing Association.

The future challenge for CME will be to find that common ground where the interests of academic medicine, medical societies, and practicing physicians intersect. "There is a need to restore some semblance of a safe harbor that allows CME providers the opportunity to make progress in innovative education without fear of punishment for their good work."


Barbara E. Becker
CCG Metamedia hired Barbara E. Becker as vice president of the medical education division. It also selected Kerry Alyson Crawford, Nikki Muntz, and Holly Henry as managers of new business development. • Eric Hobson was named associate dean for academic affairs at South University's pharmacy school. • Richard Klasco, was selected as chief medical officer of Thomson Healthcare. • Judith Hagan was named vice president of sales and marketing for Phoenix Group Holdings new company, AuGenix.


Healthpoint launched "The Biology of the Chronic Wound," a free CE/CME accredited, online course. • The AIDS Healthcare Foundation was certified as a CME provider by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Education. • MedPage Today launched Fingertip Formulary Online, an all-payer formulary tool. • Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management announced a healthcare MBA program.


Phoenix Group Holdings was named one of the 50 fastest-growing companies in New Jersey by NJBIZ magazine.

Jan Fitzpatrick is president of Jan Fitzpatrick & Associates. She can be reached at


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