Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Pharma Sales Rep of Tomorrow

Pharmaceutical companies are dramatically reducing the number of pharma sales rep jobs. According to searches performed on, pharmaceutical sales rep jobs have declined nearly 50% over the past 5 years. This is an astounding figure for an industry which has historically depended on sales reps detailing prescribers.

There are several major factors driving this decline:

1. Shift to higher-growing markets, such as China, and away from low-growth territories, such as the USA.

2. Physicians are increasingly time constrained due to declining reimbursement. With less income per patient, physicians are seeing more patients per day, at the expense of the time which would have been spent with a pharmaceutical sales rep.

3. Much of the information provided by sales reps is now readily available online. Critically, high quality information is becoming increasingly available on mobile devices and tablet computers.

4. Because of time constraints and the widespread availability of digital resources, physicians want information that relates to innovative products and/or innovative clinical trial results, but that is not readily available elsewhere.

So what will the pharmaceutical sales representative of tomorrow look like? We think that the pharmaceutical sales rep is not a thing of the past. However, the qualifications of the pharma sales rep will change dramatically. We think that the sales rep will not be a "direct" sales person, in the traditional sense. Rather, we think that the sales rep of the future will be a combination of medical/technical knowledge and Internet marketing or search engine optimization skills.

From a medical perspective, it will become increasingly important for tomorrow's pharma sales reps to have some medical training, such as degrees in pharmacy, nursing, or pre-med. This clinical and scientific background will become increasingly important as therapies become more complex, such as RNAi therapies, therapeutic vaccines, and so forth.

However, as more and more marketing becomes digital (especially mobile), having sales reps with search engine optimization and internet marketing skills will become increasingly important. Pharma marketing groups will need to think about how to achieve high-ranking positions for their products and information in search engines (both PC and mobile-based). They will need to understand how physicians use search, online encyclopedias, journal repositories, and the lay press to uncover and use medical information.

What we are proposing is more than simply digital marketing. What we are proposing is a migration from detailing to online sales. In fact, shifting the marketing effort online also means that product sampling must also follow suit, as the sales rep will no longer be there to drop off product samples as part of the detail.

If this is true, then there are several implications:

1. Current and future reps will need additional training beyond their pharmacy or nursing degrees. Specifically, additional training will be required in SEO and online/internet marketing. Degree candidates with dual degrees in, for example, pharmacy and IT may be especially valued.

2. The sales efforts can be increasingly outsourced, but only to those companies who have this blend of internet marketing and clinical experience. Simply "renting" sales representatives will be insufficient.

3. Online marketing will have to be available in multiple formats (PCs, mobile devices) through multiple channels (search engines, online encyclopedias, social media, etc.).

These are both frightening and potentially exciting times for the pharmaceutical industry to reshape how it conveys information to physicians. It is our hope that these changes lead to better information transfer to physicians and better patient care.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Medical Devices vs Pharma

In evaluating the potential of the two sectors, it must be said that there is nothing quite like getting in early on a blockbuster drug and riding it to new highs. In the meantime, smart pharma investors stay on the lookout for news about clinical trials that result in new indications for a drug, or that show a reduction in mortality, side effects, etc. Modifications in a drug that expand target populations are also good. Often these kinds of developments show up on TV commercials. Currently, through a spate of commercials you can witness the battle unfold over new indications for insomnia treatments, as drug companies address the huge and growing problem of sleeplessness in America.

But on the whole, right now Pharma is in a bit of a funk, hoping for new blockbusters, while medical devices/technology is more exciting, especially minimally invasive technologies. Substantial acceleration in FDA approval timelines since the passage of the 1997 Modernization Act, has helped the medical device industry.

As the competition among broad-based medical technical companies, like Medtech, Boston Scientific J&J and others has grown more intense, they are increasingly looking to acquire small companies with promising technologies. This has spurred a great deal of entrepreneurial growth.
Is there such a thing as a blockbuster medical device? Except for drug-eluting stents, probably not, when you compare devices to top pharmaceutical winners. But medical technology is addressing some huge markets, with big profit potential.

Take back pain. It's the scourge of millions with a market of over $60 billion annually. Artificial disc technology is rapidly coming up with advances to treat chronic back cases. Carotid stenting, which was approved last year, is less invasive than surgery and sales of carotid stents are anticipated to grow to $1 billion within the decade-from less than $100 million today. And the annual growth rate of computer aided surgery rate is expected to increase from 10% in 2005 to more than 20% in 2009.

Aging baby boomers will aid the medical device boom. Age-related ailments combined with medicare eligibility will expand the use of pacemakers, defibrillators, stents, orthopedic implants and cochlear implants.

Medical devices/technology and pharmaceuticals provide a good way to diversify within healthcare, though you must stay current on developments in both fields. Of course, if you're really looking for growth you might turn to an even smaller healthcare/biotech sibling- diagnostics. With approval power over payments, healthcare providers, in essence, control the money, and thus wield enormous influence over which treatments grow share. Increasingly, healthcare providers are looking at preventative measures to stave off the huge expense of treating full-blown diseases. And how do you prevent diseases? Early diagnosis. But more on that in another article.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Pharma Consulting Firms Changing the Face of the Industry

Pharma consulting companies will typically boast a wide range of consultants with specific knowledge about different elements of the pharmaceutical industry. One of the main purposes of this type of consultancy firm is helping manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs to understand their compliance requirements in relation to how they actually manufacture the goods in their plants. More and more manufacturers are struggling to fall in line with FDA compliance regulations and will turn to consulting companies to help them overcome this hurdle.

Is Pharma Consulting the Right Solution for you?

Obviously, consulting has a whole host of benefits but in order to establish whether it is the right solution for your particular requirements, it is important to discuss your situation with experts in the field. By explaining the type of pharmaceutical goods that you produce and the market that you are targeting, it will become much easier for pharma consulting firms to tailor a solution that matches your requirements.

Another commonly sought resource from consultancy firms is pharmaceutical training seminars because these offer great value - insomuch as they will help to significantly increase the knowledge base of employees and managers alike when it comes to issues such as good manufacturing practice (GMP) and FDA / GMP auditing. Finding the right pharma consulting team for you should be relatively straightforward and most manufacturers head online to find the right match for their needs - both in terms of budget and calibre of consultants.

Pharma consulting isn't something that is new to the industry but it really is beginning to yield dividends for those manufacturers who found themselves drowning in a sea of compliance and regulations. For any manufacturer of medical devices or drugs, it will certainly be advantageous to consider utilising the services of a leading consultancy firm.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pharma Consulting Uptake on the Increase

Pharma consulting firms are something that aren't necessarily new to the medical device and supplement industry but the quality of the training programmes and experience of the consultants now mean that they are truly an invaluable resource that cannot be overlooked by manufacturers looking to improve their performance and compliance within the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma consulting agencies can really add value to the manufacturing processes behind medical devices and supplements and the professionals operating in this field will make it their responsibility to help enhance the general safety levels of the products that reach the marketplace.

Speaking to Consulting Firms about FDA Compliance

It is clearly the case that one of the biggest issues that continually arises in the pharmaceutical industry is that of FDA compliance and it is one of the biggest factors in derailing the operations of manufacturers. It will definitely be worthwhile for manufacturers to consider the use of consulting firms because they will have the necessary expertise in the form of their pharmaceutical consultants to guide them through any FDA compliance issues that will arise.

To make the most of consulting agencies, it is a good idea to bring them into the design and manufacturing process at an early stage. In doing this, you can help guarantee that they have the opportunity to assess the sort of products you are manufacturing and offer you any pertinent advice on any FDA compliance or good manufacturing practice (GMP) that could potentially arise.

Consulting services will prove invaluable to manufacturers of all sizes and no matter what type of pharmaceutical goods are being produced, their expert analysis and extensive knowledge of how the industry operates is something that will help a manufacturer of pharmaceutical goods to really prosper.