What’s on Your Mind: Opinions

Contributed by:

NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.

A bold, broad, unapologetic proclamation of benefits

The most significant thing PhRMA and its constituent members can do is adopt a stronger, more assertive, and more proactive voice in the public debate over health and healthcare choices and expenditures. Past efforts to justify industry pricing and profits by repeatedly referencing the high cost of R&D proved to be a soft, selfserving whisper in the middle of a global shouting match. Although it’s not perfect in many regards, it can be argued that over the years the pharma industry has done more to eradicate disease, minimize suffering, and extend and improve life for humankind than perhaps any institu tion on the planet. And there’s more to follow. Diplomacy is important. And the subject of healthcare deserves an unqualified measure of respect. But there is a time to whisper and a time to scream. And what the industry needs now is a bold, broad, unapologetic proclama tion of the very personal benefits of a healthy industry. It has relevance and meaning to every being on this planet … and those to come. Matt Giegerich PRESIDENT AND CEO COMMONHEALTH The value of medicine This is a hot topic with me as I have always felt very strongly that the industry has not done enough to educate people about the “value” of the medicines we develop. There has been a tendency to back away from criti cism or defend criticism with numbers — such as the high cost of research and develop ment. This simply focuses the argument on money rather than focusing it on “value.” It is difficult for today’s society to remem ber the high rates of infant mortality due to childhood illnesses that are very rarely seen today — measles, mumps, chicken pox, infec tions, etc. It also is difficult to remember the large number of tuberculosis clinics that treated many hundreds of thousands of people with tuberculosis. All these diseases are gone because of medical advances. However, it isn’t so difficult for people to relate to a mother or spouse with breast cancer, or a grandparent with heart disease, or a child that requires medication for attention deficit disorder. The reason people don’t relate to these things is that they take them for granted. For some rea son good health is a “right” rather than some thing that carries a value. And therefore medicines carry no “value.” I am very concerned about society’s real values. Society criticizes a pharmaceutical company for providing valuable information via television while it condones beer compa nies running ads that promote antisocial behavior and degrade women. There is a need for education programs that generate aware ness of the “value” that is inherent in all medicines. These programs need to reach an emotion al level that will tie people emotionally to that value. For example, a child enjoys time with a grandparent who wins the battle with cancer because of the drug therapy he/she OPINIONS Proactive communications — improving the industry’s image I n the January issue of PharmaVOICE,we asked your opinion on PhRMA’s new Strategic Communications and Public Affairs division, which was conceived to increase communication to all stakeholders as well as implement effective, innovative ways to get the message out. According to Alan Holmer,president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA),with the rapid proliferation of television programming and communications technologies, the industry must continue to find new, innovative ways to make policy leaders, opinion leaders and,most importantly, the American people aware of the tremendous lifesaving contributions pharmaceutical companies make every day. “It is imperative that we help people understand the serious risks posed by heavyhanded legislative initiatives that would jeopardize our continued ability to discover breakthrough medicines to save lives and improve the health of all Americans,”Mr.Holmer says. PharmaVOICE wanted to know what other ways could the industry positively increase its visibility to consumers and other stakeholders? receives — there is emotional “value” rather than a “dollar value” to this situation. Values in today’s society are defined in part by our politicians, civic leaders, legislators, and other public figures. When the government initi ates criticism of the pharmaceutical industry, society follows that lead. I am very pleased to see that PhRMA will be addressing these important audiences as part of their new edu cational initiatives. Finally, I believe the industry has to spend time and money educating the public about the role the industry plays in educating healthcare professionals. Without healthcare industry support there would be no medical congresses, symposia, educational meetings, training programs, etc. The public needs to clearly understand that the industry is respon sible (either directly or indirectly) for the edu cation of their family physician and that the industry takes that role very seriously and is committed to highquality medical education programs that improve patient care. Neil Matheson PRESIDENT AND CEO APOTHECOM ASSOCIATES LLC Take the emphasis off price, put it on value Most of the negative press or negative issues surrounding the pharmaceutical indus try today revolve around drug price sensitivi ty. This sensitivity has been caused by gov ernmental focus and the industry’s own increased directtoconsumer advertising. The industry tends to “hang its hat” on WHAT’S on your mind explaining the need for R&D when explain ing drug costs, but that is not the only driv ing force behind drug pricing today. The industry should let consumers know about their discount programs, patient information, valueadded programs, indigent patient pro grams, orphan drugs, etc. The industry should take the emphasis off price and put it on the value offered to the public by the industry. Pharma has a responsibility to educate the public. Consumer awareness and education are important. Physician education is critical. The pharmaceutical industry should educate its own people about drug pricing so that these people (reps, managers, etc.) may have a positive impact in the field, with patients, doctors, and institutions. Pharma should talk to patients and doctors about the best way to educate, query to find the missing links in their information flows, and target their con sumer campaign(s) appropriately. Jim Dutton PRESIDENT CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FOR CMRI Michelle Reece DIRECTOR CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FOR CMRI Giving back to the community First and foremost, there is a perception among the lay press, politicians, public advo cates, and consumers that “big pharma” is overcharging for their products and that spending heavily on selfpromotion may be construed as further rationale for the per ceived high cost of medicines. Therefore, when we brainstormed, we took this into con sideration, creating alternatives that are more altruistic and community based, in an attempt to lessen the perception and increase goodwill. Our ideas are: . Children’s Scholarship Art/Essay Contest on “How medicine positively affected my family’s lives.” The program, which could be promoted in a Sunday supplement such as USA Weekend or Parade magazine, would enroll children of four age groups — preschool, elementary, junior high school, and high school. The assignment would be to draw a picture (for the smaller children) or write a 200word essay on how medicine pos itively affected their family or themselves. Winners will be drawn from each group and will receive a scholarship of $1,000 each. . Great Starts RX Mentorship Program. This scholarship program would target high school students who have an interest in sci ence/medicine. The program would grant a fouryear scholarship to selected universities with the agreement being that the graduate would then work for a pharma company of their choice for four years in return — hence, the “great start.” This type of plan has worked successfully for companies such as Raytheon and it would work well for pharma. . National Pharmaceutical Awareness Day. One day a year would be selected and a road tour would be initiated in key cities, promot ing wellness and screenings for diseases such as high cholesterol, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, etc. This would be a major PR initiative with Broll footage dis tributed to local newscasts on the advances brought to the public via the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, each major pharmaceu tical company would participate in a Smithso nian Institution display of advances each com pany brought to the world of medicine. This exhibit would stay at the Smithsonian for a month and then a smaller version of it would tour major cities and schools. . Breakthroughs in Medicine Sunday Sup plement. This supplement would be very similar to the recent one run by Philip Mor ris, which was on secondhand smoke. This would be a freestanding, glossy piece that is linked to a separate Website where the public can read more about it. . Web banner ads. Placed on any medical information site, these banner ads would drive readers to the pharma company home page. . Baby Boomer Initiatives. Baby boomers — people between the ages 39 and 57 — rep resent one of the largest groups of consumers of healthcare products and services. We could specifically target them in a number of ways, such as: “Health in Practice” book. This book would be sponsored by the pharma industry. It would guide boomers stepbystep through various healthrelated subjects that boomers should be aware of as they age, plus chapters on Medicare, Medicaid, knowing how to care for an elderly relative, choosing a nursing home, issues of home care, and the like. . Concert/sporting events. Premiums would be given out at the gate at events that draw an “older” crowd, for example Neil Dia mond, Neil Young, revival tours, etc. Ads in programs (and in Playbill on Broadway) also would be part of the program. Camille DeSantis, BS, MT (ASCP) VP, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, COPY ACCEL HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATIONS Maria Casini VP, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, ART ACCEL HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATIONS Extending life expectancy, not salesforces I just saw a statistic today that 100 years ago average life expectancy was in the 40s, meaning I would not be writing this absent the contributions of the pharmaceutical industry. Back then, simple diseases such as pneumonia and TB were at the top of the killer list. I recently saw an ad featuring Valentino, pointing out that his untimely demise could easily have been prevented had antibiotics been available. The American public will tol erate a reasonable pharma profit if it is made clear to them that taking it away will kill the goose that laid the golden cures. The industry should consider taking some of the nearly $3 billion it is spending on DTC to convey this message to the public. In addition, it should get its house in order by biting the bullet and trimming the grossly overstaffed salesforces, which will make it easi er to cut back on profitsapping samples and other salesforce driven squandering of market ing dollars. These reforms would make it possi ble to hold the line or actually roll back prices, while maintaining or increasing margins. Then all that needs to be done is to improve R&D ROI — I’ll leave the solution to that problem to wiser minds than mine! Terry Nugent DIRECTOR OF MARKETING MEDICAL MARKETING SERVICE INC. (MMS) Deliver impact Most of us tend to generalize about issues and industries until they effect us personally. I think if all the politicians and people in gen eral who complain about the “greedy, gougers” of the pharmaceutical industry would think about a member of their own family or a close friend who is taking a chron ic medication to prevent a serious health con dition or whose life has been saved by drugs when they were in an acute health crisis, there would be less pressure on the industry. So, my suggestion is not to worry about finding a new medium to deliver the indus try’s message, but a more impactful way of getting the message across. Make it personal in TV or print ads, i.e., “My husband would have died had it not been for Natrecor. Do you have someone in your family whose life was saved? How would your life be different if the medicine wasn’t there to save him?” There are as many ways to tell this story with impact as there are life situations. The key is that nearly everybody has had a family member or friend who has been saved. They just have to think abut the personal impact and consequences on themselves had the drugs not been there. Larry Wolheim PRINCIPAL GIANT CREATIVE/STRATEGY LLC 7 PharmaVOICE F e b ru a r y 20 03 WHAT’S on your mind Changing behaviors — rational and emotional This question focuses on what I think is one of the greatest ironies in marketing. When we, as marketers, begin brand develop ment, we start the quest for the single cus tomer insight that is most motivating to our prescribers/consumers so that it is compelling enough to change a behavior, or start a new one. Amarketer’s dream is that the “insight,” once uncovered, will not only be rational, but emotional, as well. Because it has been proven time and again that customer insights that are both rational and emotional, are the most compelling and sure to succeed. So, with that logic as a backdrop, if you think of our indus try (the pharmaceutical industry) as a “brand,” the customer insight that our prod uct delivers upon is “the improvement and saving of life,” arguably the most inherently emotional and rational insight for which a marketer could ever dare hope. Why then, is the industry so often maligned and the target of criticism and negative publicity around excessive pricing and commodity marketing? It is a great contradiction, and to me, a basic failure of marketing. For those of us who work in healthcare marketing, it is akin to the “shoemakers children having no shoes” phe nomenon. The new PhRMA division will help … hopefully to start from scratch on a new PR campaign that will leverage the good in our industry. But we who are proud of the work we do should consider our own individ ual power at the grassroots level as footsol diers who can defend our cause day in and day out with the critics we come into contact with on a regular basis. I know that I personally, rarely find that a week goes by that I don’t get a chance to speak positively about the good that the pharmaceutical industry does in any number of social venues in which I find myself. I like to think that the journey begins with a single footstep, and every time I raise my voice in support of this business, I cover a little bit more ground. Our collective voices could help us travel a lot further. A simple thought, but a basic one. I am not blind to the legitimate criticisms of our business, and I do believe it’s essential that our industry proactively police itself with agreed upon guidelines like those issued by PhRMA, which helps everyone keep their collective eyes on appropriate marketing and gives our critics some comfort that they are being heard and addressed. Risa Bernstein PRESIDENT ACCEL HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATIONS A more aggressive and pointed message I agree completely with PhRMA’s position and objectives. With the new Strategic Com munication and Public Affairs division, we could test much stronger and direct messages to get our point across, possibly like the fol lowing: . “If not for the newly discovered pre scription drugs I would be dead.” . “Mother would have passed on years ago without (name of specific product).” . “Without (drug), Dad would be in a wheelchair.” . “I am healthy and feel great because I am on (drug) and it only costs x $ a month, which is less than I spend on car repairs.” . “I am spending less for my body and mind’s health with (drugs) than I do for my car repairs, so it is a bargain and I am feeling great.” I feel that we have been addressing the issues softly and need to send a more aggres sive and pointed message to be heard. Albert G. Nickel PRESIDENT, CHAIRMAN, CEO LYONS LAVEY NICKEL SWIFT INC. First good step, but empowerment is needed There is little argument that the pharma ceutical industry has been ineffective at com municating its positive and lifesaving bene fit to society throughout the ages. And the current legislation has been very successful at capitalizing on the longstanding tide of ill will toward the industry. When you consider that the pharmaceutical industry is often mentioned with the tobacco industry in terms of suspect profit motives, the amount of work to be done may seem insurmountable. The formation by PhRMA of a new Strate gic Communications and Public Affairs divi sion is a good first step, but also runs the risk of becoming ineffective from a bureaucracy standpoint. We’ve all seen how even a two company comarketing agreement can get sti fled by politics, competing agendas, differing contribution levels, and personality conflicts. If this division is to be successful, it must be empowered by the members to make deci sions on all fronts, be it communication platforms, supplier selections such as PR, market research and advertising agencies, and budget allocations. It must also be very careful to thoroughly test all pub lic messages before rollout, because the group has one shot at communicating the message successfully. If it misses, the public and political backlash would be fast and furi ous. Bravo on taking this first step. All of us in the industry are surely going to be rooting for their success. Ed Mitzen PRESIDENT PALIO COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY CONFERENCES — TO ATTEND OR NOT TO ATTEND IS THE CONTENT QUESTION Busy executives are pulled in a multitude of directions every day. In addition to holding and attending internal meetings, you are faced with an exhaustive list of conferences, symposia, seminars, meetings, etc. that can fill up your calendar in no time. Clearly, you can’t attend every event. PharmaVOICE wants to know what makes a conference, symposia, seminar worthwhile to you? And having attended an event did it fulfill your expectations? WHAT’SYOUR OPINION? Please email your comments to feedback@pharmavoice.com. What’s Your Opinion? 8 F e b ru a r y 20 03 PharmaVOICE

Posted in:

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a Comment.

FEEDBACK