There is a “seismic shift” to NNP (non-personal promotion), or non-rep delivered product promotion, taking place in the pharmaceutical industry. Specialties such as psychiatry, pediatrics, and gastroenterology have been significantly impacted. The result is marketing budgets are being reapportioned to social, mobile/apps, and digital marketing.
MM&M reports: Pharma is not in the business of fixing things that ain’t broke. It takes a seismic shift to force the industry to rethink its historical organizational structures and to replot its tried-and-tested road maps for commercial success. And that’s exactly what this represents.
HCPs are now blocking sales-rep access in swathes—some voluntarily, others under orders from above. According to ZS Associates’ AccessMonitor survey, only 51% of all prescribers are now accessible to reps, down from 78% in 2009. For some specialties, such as psychiatry (41%), pediatrics (45%) and gastroenterology (47%), the numbers are even worse.
An emerging key contributor to this trend is the fact that unprecedented numbers of prescribers are now employed by medical groups, many of which implement no-see policies on behalf of their employees. “It used to be that most physicians were independent businesspeople who always fought for what was best for the patient,” says Rich Daly, managing partner, RavineRock Partners, and former president, US diabetes, AstraZeneca. “But the power of the employer, the payer, the PBMs—they have changed the dynamic and others are now calling the shots.”
Whereas NPP’s role was once to complement field sales efforts—and perhaps pinch-hit for reps in the twilight innings of certain brands—it has since taken on a far greater significance as a tool kit for filling sales force gaps. But now that those gaps have become gaping holes, might we be approaching a watershed moment where an NPP strategy might actually supersede the sales force?
With respect to balancing the mix of calls and NPP, Daly, who has also held senior executive roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Takeda, believes pharma companies could be making better use of the data they collect. “We’ve had big data in pharmaceuticals for decades. We’re drowning in it,” he says. “But what about the big insights? If you have great analytics and derivative insight then you know whether a drug is likely to be concentrated at launch or if the uptake will likely be slow, and plan accordingly. Nobody ever gets fired in pharma for doing what everybody else has always done.”
That said, there is evidence that marketing budgets are being reapportioned. The annual MM&M/Ogilvy CommonHealth Healthcare Marketers Trend Report (MM&M, June 2014) showed signs of a shift in HCP spending toward NPP tactics last year: 63% of marketers reported increased budgets for mobile/tablet apps; 63% reported increased budgets for social media; 51% for digital ads; 48% for websites; and 33% for direct marketing.
“It’s hard to say if it’s a left-pocket-to-right-pocket move,” says Woodland. “But yes, marketing is freeing up dollars from the sales force and redeploying it on NPP.”
“There are more than enough viable addressable opportunities in every channel today,” says Woodland. “If you put in the effort to understand the audience, you get a much more coherent NPP strategy that won’t be a one-dimensional type of program.”
It’s all about choosing the most appropriate mix for the product, audience and market. “I have two children. I love them equally and I treat them equally,” says Daly. “But I don’t treat my products equally. I discriminate brutally. If it makes sense to approach product A with 75% NPP, then go for it. The biggest mistake anybody can make is to treat each product the same.”
Read more here: MM&M: Nothing (Im)personal
Why It’s Hot: Social, Digital, Mobile/Apps are coming to the forefront in Pharma. It will mostly likely force the FDA to tighten up fuzzy interactive media guidelines in turn providing pharmaceutical companies fruitful opportunities particularly in the social space to engage direct to consumer as well as HCP.