Who's Coming to Meetings? - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Who's Coming to Meetings?
Need to attract the "right" physicians to a promotional meeting? Have to do it on a budget while following new compliance rules? Check out this new survey to see how the rest of pharma lives with a shifting promotional landscape.


Pharmaceutical Executive



Promotional budgets vary widely—from $10,000 to $50 million per year among this group of respondents. Fully a third of those surveyed said their company spent less than $500,000 per year on promotional meetings. But regardless of the amount of money in the promotional budget, respondents seemed to have a strong preference for smaller, in-person meetings. Two thirds preferred in-person gatherings, and nearly as many opted for in-person meetings. Nine of ten respondents said the money was well-accounted-for by mandatory compliance procedures: Their companies tracked the incentives and honoraria paid to attendees.
Many survey respondents mentioned that changes in the compliance regulations resulted in a more "balanced playing field" and eliminated unfair competition. The best products rise to the top and get prescribed, regardless of a company's ability to spend dollars to entertain/inform physicians. The new regulatory environment keeps the focus on the product and the disease, not on the venue. It puts the emphasis of lunch programs on the clinical and scientific content, not the entertainment value.


Belief Statements
In addition, many respondents hoped compliance regulations could improve outsiders' perceptions of the industry by removing the "kickback stigma" associated with luxury entertainment. By improving the perception of the industry, pharma would develop more appropriate customer interactions. Regulations are good for the industry, if all companies follow them. But some respondents complained that new regulations have decreased the educational value of some programs. Physicians are looking for cutting-edge information and clinical updates. But the new regulations create too many new hoops to jump through. The end result: Information is out of date by the time it is approved for use. The regulations also force companies to dedicate additional manpower to compliance and to rein in sales people, who become timid when interacting with targets. For this reason, some product information does not get conveyed for fear of breaking promotional guidelines. It is harder for representatives to build rapport or even get access to key physicians.


Respondent Profile
Most companies appear to be taking compliance seriously. Two out of three say that pharma strictly follows the new guidelines. Many report that dedicated compliance departments, officers, or legal staff handle compliance requests at their company. Companies report an average of 24 compliance requests in the past year. Six of 10 were from states; the others were issued by federal agencies. A few companies received most of these requests. Half of the respondents said their companies received fewer than nine compliance requests; just over a quarter received 10 to 20 requests; the remaining companies received more than 20 apiece.

Attracting a Better Audience

Compare your ideal audience with your "typical" audience—are they the same? Conduct research among members of your ideal audience; learn what they want/expect from professional meetings; find out what meeting forums/topics they prefer; ask questions, such as preferences for format/frequency/timing of meetings, etc. Don't rely on guesswork, untested assumptions, or the individual opinions of your sales reps or other team members. Do the research.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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