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RAISE your voice Resultsoriented partnerships We read with great interest the incisive recommendations of our friend Richard B. Vanderveer, CEO of V2 Inc., on the need to redefine the drivers of and acquisition process es for successful pharmaceutical company/ven dor relationships. (“The shifting relationship between pharmaceutical company and suppli er: Are partnerships in peril?” PharmaVOICE, May 2003.) To expand on several of his com ments: . ThreeBid Process — Fit for commodi tiesnot consultants. We underscore Dr. Van derveer’s proposal that pharmaceutical devel opers rethink the distinction between acquisition of clinical commodity “ingredi ent” purchases and those of external market ingsupport services — and not apply increas ingly common “bidbased” procedures to them uniformly. V2’s deliverables in this vein may include strategic market research heuristics, while our firm provides consultative recommendations for accelerating clinicaltrial patient recruit ment; clearly, these services are not best pur chased “by the pound.” We believe a more enlightened selection approach is particularly valuable for pharma companies seeking to assess service providers that will make judgmentbased contributions to their longterm global strategies and drug portfolio outcomes. A product line’s development is just too valuable to be guided by lowestcostprovider criteria alone! In fact, a reductionistic “three bid” perspective negates qualified decision makers’ bona fide experiencebased assessment role in identifying the subtle “valueadded” performance distinctions between potential solution providers. Does the pharma industry really achieve optimal results when unidimensional “ratio nality” is substituted for cogent human evalu ation? . RFIitis — We have noted a parallel trend toward “RFIitis.” Myriad questions are asked; hundreds of hours are invested by all parties; travel time and executive resources are expended. But, as often turns out, undis closed “disqualifiers” are identified after the fact. And, even at its best, RFI pro cesses focuses narrow emphasis on individual service components — while overlooking the comprehensive value of their interrelated synergies. Over dependence on these exercises can cause everyone’s costs to go up! Interactive collaboration leads to optimal solutions. “Dr./Mr./Ms. Pharma CEO, let’s build roads to successful partnerships. May we ask you to help establish the operational processes that build the relationships that bring your organizations top value?” — Frank S. Kilpatrick HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATIONS GROUP CUSTOMER SERVICE — WHERE HAS IT GONE? Twenty years ago, good customer service was the norm; today, it’s the exception. A recent study conducted by The Customer Respect Group found that more than onehalf of pharmaceutical, healthcare, and healthcare whole sale companies don’t respond to Website inquiries from customers (for more information about this study, please turn to page 50 in this issue). Additionally, Quest Media, organizer of the National Customer Service Awards, conducted a major survey of 250 senior managers working in customer service across all sectors. The survey revealed the biggest issues they are fac ing today include: changing customer expectations; performance management; boardlevel customer service sup port; and creating and managing staff morale. Each of these key areas plays a fundamental role in the delivery of good quality service, and failure to correctly address any one of them can only result in the delivery of inadequate service at a time when customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding. PharmaVOICE wants to know in an age where the cus tomer is king, how can the industry improve its customer relations? What are the biggest customerservices chal lenges? And what strategies work best to meet cus tomer demands? WHAT’SYOUR OPINION? Please email your comments to email@example.com. What’s Your Opinion? LETTERS The road to a successful partnership 6 J u l y 20 03 PharmaVOICE RAISE your voice Finally, when a pharmaceutical company establishes a true “ownership” relationship with a supplier, it may well receive the invisi ble value of “free thinking” — a “spec” piece of design, a hallway brainstorm — for which it is never billed, based on a commitment to the greater good for all parties. Our recommendation: Remove the redun dancy of “lesson relearning” by making qual ified, selected vendors your partners. You get what you pay for — or, if you’re perceived as a client partner, you can get more. Dr./Mr./Ms. Pharma CEO: Let’s build roads to successful partnerships. May we ask you to help establish the operational processes that build the relationships that bring your organizations top value? Frank S. Kilpatrick PRESIDENT HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Switching sides I am writing to respond to the article “From the bedside to the sales side” published in May 2003 PharmaVOICE. I am one of those healthcare professionals who decided to make the switch. I graduated from medical school, went through a year of residency, and decided to obtain a MBA degree. During my first year of residency I came to the conclusion that practicing medicine post residency was not for me. Managedcare woes, a pager glued to the hip, and many hours away from home became increasingly unappealing. I always had an interest in business so that is why I decided to follow a different career path sooner rather than later. Even while in medical school I had doubts about practicing medicine but I was not told of any other options; it was either residency or research — not working for pharma or biotech companies. Currently, I am head of medical affairs at Thermo Electron’s Point of Care & Rapid Diagnostics division. I am able to leverage the medical and MBA degrees by being a resource to marketing, sales, and research and develop ment. As I explain how I get to go home at night, the activities I can participate in during the week and on weekends, and the overall satis faction of being valued to my practicing physician friends, most are considering the switch. Loleta M. Robinson, M.D., MBA MANAGER, MEDICAL AFFAIRS POINT OF CARE & RAPID DIAGNOSTICS CLINICAL DIAGNOSTICS, THERMO ELECTRON CORP. Conversely, our firm has delivered its greatest successes working handinhand with quali fied researchers who contribute essential base line knowledge regarding their trials’ recruit ment obstacles. This results in a synergistic collaboration to solve clinicaltrial enrollment issues together. By providing the most supportive environment possible, clients obtain vendors’ most commit ted contribution to the solution of their chal lenges, including (or not) obtaining their will ingness to “burn the midnight oil.” Our recommendation: Remove barriers to motivating vendors as they deliver strategic expertise and specialized problemsolving ability that may yield milliondollar client breakthroughs. . Not a Vendor — A “Consultant/Part ner.” To arrest the muchnoted recent erosion in drug development throughput, we offer that it is wise for each pharma company to build a growing and “leveragable” repository of knowledge and expertise with each selected key vendor. A corollary to this is that a committed investment be proactively budgeted to dis seminate the generalizable learnings — whether regarding demography, prevalence, or media response patterns — of each program to the related business team, within each client pharma organization.