For Compliance's Sake - Pharmaceutical Executive


For Compliance's Sake
There are side effects to compliance efforts—but they're not all bad. In fact, it's easy to see how new rules and regs help companies run their businesses better. Let us count the ways.

Pharmaceutical Executive


6 When it comes to pharmaceutical sales and marketing, industry-wide rules like the PhRMA Code have tended to somewhat level the proverbial playing field. For example, companies have a more difficult time affecting physicians' prescribing based on how much—or how little—they spend on meals and gifts. Instead, the quality of the products and the science behind them, the quality of the people, and the quality of the company itself are the key differentiators to brand success.


7 Most pharmaceutical companies state in their missions or their PR campaigns—or both—the importance of bringing benefits to patients. Compliance programs help people in a company navigate to the stated mission or message. That's because policies and guidelines tend, by design, to address not only external laws and regulations but also a company's mission and values, providing a very effective standard for making business decisions. Likely, pharmaceutical companies frequently refer back to their mission or compliance-program documents when faced with moral or ethical dilemmas.


8 When it comes to FDA and other regulators, companies' standards matter. Regulators have stated publicly in industry conferences that their jobs are a lot easier when they deal with a pharmaceutical company that they perceive knows what it is doing, has a clarity of purpose, and has clear policies and guidelines. Although it may not court any favors or privileges, this perception of high ethics and transparency enables a richer discussion about things that really matter, such as clinical evidence, and it likely allows faster, cleaner decisions that are based on a higher level of trust.


9 In my career, I've always noticed how much physicians appreciate being told the full story in an open and honest manner. Compliance has made that balancing information—the warnings and precautions that some in industry may feel a bit afraid to give—part of the product's central messages. When these messages are delivered confidently, they can result in a more productive and credible visit and improve reps' access the next time they knock on the doctor's door. These days, when there truly are so many reps and so little time, this access based on openness and trust is worth a lot.


10 So much time, effort, and money are spent to recruit talent. However, companies can best position themselves as employers of choice by offering a culture built on strong ethics and integrity. Increasingly, job seekers look for companies that have a solid reputation in the industry and communities in which they operate. The same is true for current employees, who are more likely to stay with an employer if their workplace is fueled by strong values.

Many of us have dedicated most of our careers to this industry. We do it because we truly believe in the value that we bring to patients. Sleeping well at night, knowing that we are bringing that value in an appropriate way, is important and gives us clarity of mind and purpose to tackle another day.

This ideal fits neatly into the requirements and burdens of compliance, which are a necessary part of our lives and will never go away. So why not embrace them—not as a cost of doing business—but for the multiple business benefits that they bring.

David Davidovic is the senior director of business practices for Genentech. He can be reached at


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