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Raise your voice Times have changed A whole new ball game I want to thank Mr. Pantello for sharing his candid thoughts with PharmaVOICE readers. Naturally, there has been a slight decrease in business over the last few years – single-digit vs. double-digit growth – but nothing near the catastrophe being projected in his article. The last nine months have been nothing short of robust. He’s right; times have changed. Through his company’s problems, Mr. Pantello indirectly highlights the real problem: the holding company. Many large pharma companies believed they could achieve economies of scale by consolidating business with an advertising holding company. Instead, many of them are finding McDonald’s-level customer service and the creativity to match. Companies that jumped into bed with the holding companies in the 1980s and 1990s are finding a more attractive ROI elsewhere. His solution of “product, transparency, and partnership” is a welcome addition. He’ll find that many agencies have been doing these for years. I can sincerely empathize with Mr. Pantello for having such a difficult time in today’s competitive environment. His company’s problems, however, are not indicative of the industry as a whole. The critical lesson is not that the rules of the game have changed, rather it is a whole different sport. You can’t win a fast-paced basketball game if you show up with slow, overweight football players. Larry J. Anderson communications consultant A-4 Communications Friends not foes My good friend, Ron Pantello, in the February article titled, “The Healthcare Communications Industry: On The Brink Of Financial Disaster?” seems to lament his customers’ hiring of consultants to scrutinize agency costs and fees. He is distressed that some pharmaceutical companies have turned the responsibility for engaging and managing marketing communications resources over to the procurement departments. As one of the major consulting firms to the pharmaceutical industry, we believe there is a more positive perspective on these two factual developments than that which Mr. Pantello portrays. Financial transparency is one of his suggested principles and that is exactly what most companies that hire compensation consultants are seeking. That and simple understanding of agency compensation methods and how they are applied. If the healthcare communications industry were more forthcoming and proactively transparent regarding its costs and fees, there would be much less work for consultants today. In our experience, “standardizing (agency) costs” and “negotiating more favorable fees” are not the reasons for a company initially engaging consulting services. They want to learn. They hope to get their heads around the whole subject of compensation and understand if they are being fairly charged, while providing an adequate level of income to the agency. Mr. Pantello rightly calls for the industry to do a better job in this area, but until it does consultants will continue to be necessary. Consultants are your friends, Ron. Believe it or not, we are helping to accomplish the very things you are calling on your industry to do for survival. Rod Hanlon Chairman Wanamaker Associates Kudos for the CTC I feel it is my responsibility to inform my colleagues in the industry of an event that I had the recent pleasure of chairing, The 2004 Clinical Trials Congress. I have typically tried not to attend or get involved with these types of conferences as I found them repetitive and simply a recycling of the same information. The Clinical Trials Congress was neither of these things. The time and energy that was put into the planning, organization, and execution of CTC 2004 was very apparent as the topics were relevant, presentations intriguing and informative, and the onsite networking beneficial to all who attended. This was one of the most professionally organized pharmaceutical industry conferences I’ve attended in the past 14 years. I am looking forward to participating again at future Congresses. My commendation to the CTC team for a job well done. Sanj K. Patel, Pharm.D., MBA VP, Clinical Research Genzyme Corp. 24/7/365 – What keeps you going Putting in the time is no longer an option. Work days are longer; work weeks extend into weekends; months roll by as the pages fly off the calendar. PharmaVOICE wants to know what keeps you motivated in this current 24/7/365 environment. What’s your opinion? Please e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. What’s Your Opinion?