Q&A: WebMD Chief David Schlanger

September 5, 2014
The Pharm Exec staff

Pharmaceutical Executive

David Schlanger became WebMD’s CEO in August of 2013, but first joined the company in 1995, after serving as executive director, business development at Merck.

David Schlanger became WebMD’s CEO in August of 2013, but first joined the company in 1995, after serving as executive director, business development at Merck.

The commercialization of pharmaceutical drugs has changed a lot in two decades: industry’s focus on specialty drugs for smaller populations and patients with chronic disease has supplanted the emphasis on big name primary care products, and the blanket TV buys that propelled them into blockbuster glory.

David Schlanger

Schlanger says he chuckles when he sees Abbvie’s TV ad pushing Humira for Crohn’s disease-”there’s only 2 million people with Crohn’s disease” in the US-because it stands as a relic of a bygone era where the biggest media spend all but guaranteed the largest chunk of the market. Money still talks, of course, but fewer patients are all tuned in to the same listening apparatus. Physicians and patients still need to be educated about prescription drugs, but with limited access to the former, and a larger cost burden placed on the latter, drug companies hoping to reach their target audiences (and target sales revenues) do better by concentrating on the quality of interaction, not the quantity of exposure.

For Pharm Exec’s Q&A with David Schlanger, click here.

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