Market Research Roundtable - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Market Research Roundtable
Using Research to Understand a Changing Marketplace


Pharmaceutical Executive


Vanderveer: We have to get away from doing projects to reduce risk of particular decisions and move more in the direction of collaboratively working to develop bodies of knowledge. A company like Pfizer or BMS should have a very thorough and easily searched body of knowledge on the adherence issue. They do a project here, project there, but the major companies are not developing the kinds of knowledge bodies they should have.

I think we're missing the big picture. Our side of the business is increasingly beleaguered with paperwork, contractual negotiations, and pressures from purchasing departments. This is a bad time to be wasting time and everybody ought to start to look at new ways of working together to deal with some of the important uses for marketing research. Because most of the old stuff we've been using for decades is not dealing with these issues.

Lurker: The industry needs to find people who can think at a higher level and bring that level of insight to clients. That's tough to find. Some companies need to upgrade their talent. But there are other companies that have a great talent pool already and are applying a lot of these learnings.

Slack: Properly training market researchers with an eye for the underlying business issues is an increasingly important issue facing the profession. While the more successful researchers talk of integration to the business issues and objectives—connectivity to the clients—the universities and other researcher-training programs are overly oriented to the tools and techniques of the trade. There's a real opportunity, and a pressing need, for market researchers at all levels and on both sides of the business, to step up their leadership skills, and help their clients through the changes ahead.

Kalb: The issue is not only access to talent, but access to talent on a permanent basis. There is a tendency in this profession to dip in and dip out after a couple of years.

Sibley: But one of the biggest changes in the last 20 years is that marketing research has come to be seen as a career opportunity rather than what it was. It was absolutely assumed to be a stepping stone. I think that is a good thing for companies, and a good thing for the industry.

Changes Ahead

Clinton: Researchers are asked to convert their findings to quantitative outputs that can predict the future. But how do you think about the intangible issues that surround the industry?

Kalb: A good place to start is the discussion centered around therapeutic intervention after people are sick. What about before they're sick? There is now research with vaccines that show certain cancers may actually go away as a result of pediatric vaccination programs. The industry needs to move in a direction of getting out its message that we can make a big impact early, even if it isn't actually seen until later in life.

Fox: We should probably look at other healthcare professionals, dietitians and nutritionists, nurse practitioners, and physicians' assistants to help send that wellness message.

Kalb: The difficulty is facing the issue of refills, which quite frankly, is the source of the business in the long term. If we move from a system whereby compliance is linked to refill after refill, then we come up with a vaccine that eliminates the need for refill, we then have an economic conundrum.

Sibley: When you are talking multiple sclerosis medications, why do you need to take it now to prevent something 20 years from now? This is a long-term effort, but we do need to start somewhere. And the more we can conduct real-world outcomes studies, the better opportunity we will have to make that the case.

Brodsky: We talked a little about what is siloed in the market research world. But the information can be siloed in the cost world, too. Pharmaceutical costs are too often viewed by access decision makers in an isolated way that's not necessarily linked to long-term outcomes. What's the true total cost of treating a diabetic patient?


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