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Platform Data Intelligent guidelines regarding use of physician prescribing profiles would have a minimal impact on pharmaceutical marketing. It should be noted that such data acquired by pharmaceu tical companies from pharmacies, third party syndicators, and the American Medical Association Physician Professional Data are primarily used as merely platforms upon which such pro file data are overlaid by syndicators. Those with experience in the industry will recall that profiling predates the current “mechanism”. Prior to the current era, in which “pharmacy terminal” data are used to profile physicians, the “Scriptrac” service surveyed physicians regarding their pre scribing behavior. The flaws in this methodology were serious, but it was the best available at the time and was widely used. No doubt pharma companies and their vendors would resort to this or other technology to profile physicians lacking the better alternative it enjoys today. The real challenge is for the industry to train its salespeople to be more discreet in using the data lest they telegraph to physicians a discom forting knowledge of their prescribing patterns. Persuasion rarely will be accomplished by alarming its object with one’s omniscience. Secondly, the industry should (if it hasn’t already) survey physicians on their awareness of such profiling and their attitude toward it. I suspect most physicians have concerns far greater than pharmaceutical companies’ knowledge of their own products’ usage. Third, the industry should educate, per haps in concert with the AMA and perhaps other organized medical groups, the profession about of profiling. It enables the industry to disseminate information to physicians whose prescribing profile indicate high potential interest in certain topics as evidenced by their prescribing behavior, and spares them the bur den of receiving information unlikely to be of interest based upon that profile. Fourth, the industry should reevaluate the magnitude of its emphasis on “high writers,” also known as whales. It is reasonable to hypothesize a correlation between physicians unfavorably dis posed toward profiling and those who, having been profiled as high writers, are seeing more detail reps than patients. It may be prudent to more evenly disperse the salesforce, as well as advertising and direct market ing. The midrange quintiles and deciles of today may be the whales of tomorrow, if only we strive to make it so. Terry Nugent DIRECTOR OF MARKETING MEDICAL MARKETING SERVICE INC. (MMS) Education At Risk Prescribing profiles assist medical educa tion companies to direct continuing medical education programs to physicians who treat the most patients. Providing CME programs in therapeutic areas of interest to the physi cians that prescribe the majority of medica tions in these therapeutic areas is an efficient method of getting the latest information to them from toptier thought leaders. Art Kolodkin SENIOR VP, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT NETWORKFOR CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION A Strategic Struggle You correctly identify the next major strate gic struggle between organized physician groups (of which AMA is a part) and data and pharmaceutical companies as the control of physician profiling information. However, I sus pect that pharmaceutical companies are already so very far down the path of knowing significant data about physician prescribing patterns that an attempt by the AMA to limit their knowl edge about this will be muted at best. Neil H. Gray CONSULTANT HEALTHCARE TRENDS AND STRATEGIES Off Target As a medical publishing company that pro vides clinical information to key decision makers in geriatric and longterm care through peerreviewed journals, I think that the proposed AMA guidelines are a bad idea. This would prevent us from targeting the most important people: the docs who read the OPINIONS Is physician profiling on its way out?
In the March 2002 issue, PharmaVOICE asked readers how proposed AMA guidelines,which would limit the use of physician prescribing profiles by pharmaceutical companies,would impact their marketing, research, and sales efforts? journal and treat patients and the advertisers who buy according to docs prescribing habits. Trevor Deal SR. NATIONAL ACCOUNTS MANAGER ANNALS OF LONG TERM CARE Loss of Control Physicians mayhave little control in this mat ter. If the AMA does not report this information, other sources will — there is just too much invested in salesforces, and pharma companies will pay to obtain this information. The AMA should see it as a way to make sure sales reps do not waste a physician’s time with salescall con tent unrelated to his/her practice. Sales people will continue to attempt to change a physician’s prescribing habits, but the physician is not help less in this matter. Physicians control access by sales reps, the time they spend, and what infor mation they receive from a sales person. Tony Goosmann EXECUTIVE VP WILLIAMSLABADIE A Warranted Concern Anytime someone learns others have infor mation about them, privacy becomes a major issue. However, the pharmaceutical industry uses many tactics to get the information that is then filtered to the respective sales reps for tar geting purposes. The data the AMA licenses to databases, which it is considering restricting, will do little to curtail the access to raw pre scribing data available through the retail pre scription channels, distributors, and PBMs. If what they propose does curtail the access to this data, it will simply lead to untargeted sales calls with wasted time for both parties. Chris Duncan, MBA MARKETING MANAGER VICAL INC.