Drug makers target long-term care

May 1, 1997

Pharmaceutical Representative

Several large pharmaceutical companies have recently increased their presence in the long-term care industry, according to Scott-Levin, Newtown, PA

Several large pharmaceutical companies have recently increased their presence in the long-term care industry, according to Scott-Levin, Newtown, PA.

The firms most actively promoting to nursing home pharmacists include Eli Lilly and Co., Indianapolis; Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., New York; Merck and Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ; Glaxo Wellcome Inc., Research Triangle Park, NC; and Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc., Kansas City, MO, according to the research company's most recent nursing home pharmacy provider/consultant promotional audit.

"These five companies' combined contracts accounted for 34% of total promotional activity for long-term care," said Joy Scott, CEO of Scott-Levin.

Eli Lilly, for example, increased its contacts to long-term care providers by 54% since spring 1996. Most of the company's representatives detailed the firm's new antipsychotic drug during their fall 1996 visits with pharmacists, according to the audit.

Bristol-Myers Squibb increased long-term care promotion by 53% since spring 1996, the audit found. Representatives primarily emphasized the firm's new antibiotic medication.

Hoechst Marion Roussel, meanwhile, rebounded from a steep decline in long-term care promotion during spring 1996 and boosted contacts by 92% during the fall data-collection period, according to Scott-Levin.

Merck also upped its efforts to sell to long-term care pharmacists by 21% since last spring. The company began offering value-added services, including educational programs and other support, for its post-menopausal osteoporosis treatment as part of its new promotional strategy.

"Merck recognizes the significance of long-term care as an increasingly important health care segment," said John Bloomfield, a spokesperson for the company. "The number of elderly individuals requiring long-term care is growing. Merck products are of particular value to that population because many of [the products] target ulcers, glaucoma, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol," he said.

'The next logical area'

Most pharmaceutical companies are jumping on the long-term care bandwagon because they realize the aging population is growing, said Bob Shewbrooks, executive director of managed care services for Scott-Levin.

To better target long-term care patients, the companies are launching new products designed for elderly ailments or they are hiring additional product representatives to sell to the market, Shewbrooks said.

"Pharmaceutical companies began to realize that there was an opportunity in long-term care that was largely untapped," he said.

Drug firms have been actively promoting their products to health maintenance organizations and other managed care organizations, Shewbrooks said.

"Long-term care became the next logical area that the pharmaceutical industry realized it should target as part of managed care," he said.

Shewbrooks said that a challenge for drug firms will be to track their long-term care market share movement.

Plotting market share is harder, he said, because long-term care is composed of several care sites.

"Pharmaceutical companies will need to make the right connections with distributors, for example, to track this data. Managed care will also help make market-share data available," he said.

Research and development

Research-based pharmaceutical companies will invest significantly more dollars in drug research and development in 1997, according to a separate study from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Washington.

Companies will invest a record $18.9 billion in research and development, the organization found - an increase of nearly 12% from 1996.

About $15 billion of this year's $18.9 billion investment will be spent in the United States, according to the study. PR