Physician Meetings: A Bright Future

Sep 03, 2009

The good news (and, yes, Virginia, there is good news) is that physician meetings will become increasingly more important to the industry—this according to Joseph Palo, an adviser at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Palo, who helped craft PwC's report "Pharma 2020: Marketing the Future," spoke last spring at the Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum. There, he told an audience of meeting planners that as the industry evolves (PwC's prediction is that it will triple in value by 2020, to $1.3 trillion), so will its approach to product development, marketing, and sales.

More highly specialized and targeted pharmaceuticals will require more meetings—educational meetings to train highly skilled sales reps and informational meetings with thought leaders to discuss how the products will be used.

"Meetings," said Palo, "provide one of the great exchange venues for information, motivation, and collaboration. They offer a means for physicians to learn about changes in the industry and apply those changes so that all of us as patients can live better as a result."

As for the current state of meetings, Pharmaceutical Executive's special section, Physician Meetings, takes a look at the impact of the revised PhRMA code on healthcare conventions (see "Information, Education, and Talk Trump Free Pens"). Exhibit booths outfitted with the latest technology have become less like meet-and-greet venues and more like discussion areas, as well as effective marketing channels. In "Two Views From a Booth" (see "Two Views From Inside The Exhibition Booth") two pharma executives explain why.

Meetings that rely on KOLs (key opinion leaders) are critical to the successful development and marketing of a drug. What happens then when industry access to KOLs becomes limited (see "The Shrinking Pool")?

And finally, we offer here a quick look at the state of meetings and events so far this year, according to data from SDI's "Physician Meeting and Event Audit."

In the first six months of 2009:

  • Event activity decreased 5 percent compared to the last six months of 2008
  • Small rep events and small group events continue to be the most prevalent event type for pharma, accounting for over 70 percent of total event spending
  • Meals have continued to be the most common form of honoraria offered throughout the industry
  • The amount of events that do not offer any honoraria has more than doubled from the first six months of 2007 to the first six months of 2009
  • Following an event, when physicians were asked how their prescribing habits would shift in the future, more than half (61 percent) reported maintaining current levels of prescribing, while 38 percent indicated they would increase their prescribing in the fist six months of 2009

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