Innovate. Every member of the PRC is expected to review his or her job individually, before the scheduled interdisciplinary PRC meeting.
However, a different method may be better suited for some jobs, for example, jobs that are heavily weighted toward one discipline—medical,
legal, or regulatory—and jobs that were previously reviewed at a "live" meeting and require a "second look" by only one or
two team members for final approval. Likewise, new marketing concepts are probably best discussed in a forum other than the
PRC, because only one or two PRC members may be necessary to provide specific feedback requested by the project originator.
Select individuals may know potentially viable ideas in compliant terms from the outset, reducing the number of "non-starter"
concepts. The project can be reviewed by the full team once the concept is fully "baked" and the job has been submitted to
Include additional personnel in team meetings as necessary. PRC meetings are often slowed down by lengthy discussions in the absence of important stakeholders who can shed light on the
nature of the job. These stakeholders, often from marketing, sales, or sales training, usually have the answers to questions
such as: "How will this article reprint be distributed to healthcare professionals?" "Will this brochure be too complex for
consumers to understand?" And, "Who is the intended audience for this visual aid—healthcare professionals, managed care organizations,
consumers, or others?" PRCs must make decisions not only about the medical, legal, and regulatory ramifications of marketing
material, but also about the "taste and tone" of advertising and whether approved marketing items can be responsibly executed
in the field. Input from non-core team members may be helpful in this regard.
Take the guesswork out of work. In addition to marketing and sales personnel, the attendance of marketing agencies may be required at PRCs. Their presence
may be especially helpful when understanding marketing projects in the digital realm or when fulfilling multicultural marketing
initiatives. Because the latter often require translation (and accurate back-translation) of content from English to another
language, it may be desirable to have a certified translator attend the PRC meeting. There is no reason a PRC should have
to make assumptions about questions other people can readily answer.
Delegate with authority. It should be incumbent upon all team members, including project originators, to find qualified and knowledgeable substitutes
to attend team meetings in their absence. Alternatively, absent members could attend the PRC "virtually," using any number
of web-based applications to collaborate with the team. In any case, whoever is participating in the PRC should be able to
represent their discipline and should be empowered to make final decisions on all but the most difficult issues.
Embrace the digital domain. Finally, PRCs must learn to adjust to the digital promotional age in order to evaluate proposed tactics and strategies in
this realm. They must champion new technology designed to enrich traditional marketing channels and relationships with customers.
However, because it is unlikely that regulatory authorities will carve out the digital domain from the regulations that apply
currently to print and broadcast material, PRC members will need to sharpen their digital skills, and teams may need to add
specialized members or partner with niche companies specially equipped to work with PRCs in areas critical to the future of
e-promotion—namely, the use of social media and Internet-connected devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, and game
consoles to engage consumers and providers with online advertising. PRCs must have mechanisms in place to track changes in
the various social media platforms that alter their programs regularly, often without much notice to the advertisers, and
sometimes without a strong understanding of the regulatory implications.
In my experience, by following these basic principles, PRCs should be able to produce a quality product while working in an
atmosphere of trust and respect. Equally important, the output of the PRC, whether a sales aid, journal ad, website, television
commercial, or advertising through any other format, should be medically and legally sound, capable of meeting the requirements
of regulatory authorities in the host country. The ultimate goal of such a team should be the creation of a finished product
which provides accurate and complete information to guide the prescribing physician or the patient in utilizing the advertised
product to achieve the desired health outcomes.
Arthur Lazarus, MD, MBA is Senior Medical Affairs Director at Shire Pharmaceuticals in Wayne, PA. His opinions are his own and not necessarily those
of Shire. He can be reached at email@example.com