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Internet Deemed the Most Trusted Media Source by Healthcare Consumers A new study of consumer attitudes toward healthcare information finds that the Internet is regarded as the most trusted media source for consumers, decisively outstripping offline media when consumers want credible health information. Sponsored by Medical Broadcasting Co. (MBC), the study was fielded by Nielsen//NetRatings in the first quarter of 2005 using WebIntercept survey technology across the 20 most highly trafficked health Websites. Survey data were gathered from 991 respondents over a 30-day period. While research shows that consumers trust their doctor first when it comes to health information, patients are increasingly using the Internet to improve the doctor-patient dialogue. The research data validate the growing importance of the Internet in healthcare marketing, according to MBC researchers. “The Internet is simply the perfect place to express the kind of complex health condition and treatment messaging that’s unavailable in other more finite media,” says Larry Mickelberg, MBC’s senior VP of marketing and media services. Product Success and Strong Financials Drive Growth in Biotech The biotech sector is reaching a new level of maturity and globalization, according to Ernst & Young’s 19th Annual Global Biotechnology Report, Beyond Borders. The report finds that government funding and private capital are enabling biotech companies around the world to translate cutting-edge science into life-improving therapies. “Biotechnology is delivering on its promises, and the sector’s leading companies now rank among the top therapeutic companies in the world,” says Mike Hildreth, Americas director, biotechnology, Ernst & Young LLP. Among biotech’s success indicators in 2004 were: raising $16.9 billion in capital in the United States and $3.4 billion in Europe, surpassing 2003; receiving approval for 20 new biotech medicines in the United States and nine in the European Union, compared with 18 and 6, respectively, in 2003; considerably growing the late-stage product pipeline, such that the majority of new product approvals in 2005 will come from biotech companies; and increasing global revenue by 17%. While the United States remains the global biotech leader by a significant margin, U.S. companies face increasing competition from Europe and Asia-Pacific. Among the reasons for this shift is the Bush administration’s decision to curtail federal funding for stem-cell research, affording companies in countries with more liberal regulations — Sweden, Singapore, and Korea — to get a leg up in this promising area. Lack of Medication Compliance Leads to High Costs Lack of medication compliance can cost the American healthcare system up to $300 billion, according to a medication compliance study conducted by Medco Health Solutions. Despite escalating prescription drug prices, the costs and risks of hospitalization far outweigh the costs of using medications as directed, reports the lead study: Impact of Medication Adherence on Hospitalization Risk and Healthcare Cost. The study was based on a sample of more than 137,000 patients under the age of 65 with either diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, or congestive heart failure. It is one of the first studies to demonstrate the savings generated by medication compliance for these prevalent chronic medical conditions, according to Medco. Consumers Willing to Take Medications Despite Risk Regardless of potential risks, such as heart attack or stroke, 57% of patients are willing to take pain medications and 61% of doctors are willing to prescribe such medications, according to a survey by Advanced Analytics. The national study, conducted in May 2005, polled 1,000 consumers and 200 physicians about their attitudes toward pain medications similar to Vioxx. “Consumers and physicians are willing to assume more risks than is commonly thought, especially when provided with adequate information on which to base rational decisions,” says Morris S. Whitcup, Ph.D., president, Advanced Analytics, a division of FIND/SVP. According to physicians, 82% of consumers are more concerned about medication risks now than they were a year ago. In addition, 76% of physicians surveyed said they have changed their prescribing behavior versus a year ago — with their main responses being closer monitoring of patients, prescribing older medications, and prescribing for shorter periods of time. The survey also found that both physicians and consumers feel they do not spend enough time discussing drug risks and side effects — with 70% of physicians and 80% of patients indicating that they would like more time devoted to sharing such information. In fact, 26% of consumers report that their doctors spend no time discussing medication risks and side effects, and only 38% report being very satisfied with their doctor’s explanation when they receive counseling. Pediatric Studies Lead to New Drug Labeling Almost 100 marketed medicines in the United States have received pediatric labeling since the late 1990s as the result of clinical studies to determine appropriate dosages, safety, efficacy, and formulations for children, according to analysis completed by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD). Tufts CSDD undertook the analysis in advance of the October 2007 onset of the U.S. law granting pediatric exclusivity. Under this law, in return for conducting pediatric studies, drug sponsors are granted a six-month marketing exclusivity period during which the FDA may not approve another company’s abbreviated new drug application submitted for the same drug. A similar program is being considered in the European Union. The study’s author, Christopher-Paul Milne, assistant director of Tufts CSDD, notes that drug developers initiated pediatric studies in response to 95% of FDA requests between 1998 and 2001, which was a 15% greater response rate than the FDA had anticipated. But fewer FDA requests and a declining interest in incentives led to a drop in pediatric studies between 2000 and 2004. Before the law went into effect, about 70% of drugs used in children in the United States had been dispensed without adequate pediatric dosing information, according to Tufts. Despite advances in pediatric labeling, difficulties remain for conducting pediatric clinical trials, including: the occurrence of adverse drug events idiosyncratic to children; long-term effects of chronic drug use on growth and development; and unanticipated differences in adult and juvenile forms of common diseases, such as depression. Offshoring is Expected to Increase 16% annually Research suggests that 13% of all jobs in the pharmaceutical sector (19% of service/nonmanufacturing positions) could be performed anywhere in the world. While many of the leading pharma players have set up pilot offshoring programs, either captive or through vendors, a wide gap exists between the number of service jobs that they could locate remotely and the actual number of jobs that they have located offshore or plan to offshore by 2008. These are the findings of a new case study from the McKinsey Global Institute, titled The Emerging Global Labor Market: Demand for Offshore Talent in Pharmaceutical Services. The degree of offshoring among pharma companies in developed countries is currently at less than 1% of employment. But this figure is expected to double in five years because of cost pressures and companies overcoming internal barriers to offshoring. According to the new research, offshoring will become an increasingly important source of value for the industry. Offshoring is expected to increase 16% annually, amounting to 21,000 employees in 2008. The highest potential for offshoring in the pharma sector lies in information technology services, research and development, commercial analytics, and general and administrative back-office functions. In contrast, positions that need to remain local include sales, procurement, supply chain management, and those requiring interactions with regulators. Given the current environment of pressure and constraints on DTC television advertising, we’re surprised that spending on Internet marketing still lags so far behind actual use. The Internet is an undeniable solution for pharmaceutical marketers, says Linda Holliday, president of Medical Broadcasting Co. Linda Holliday Dr. Robert Epstein Increased medication compliance for chronic conditions can significantly cut medical costs and keep patients out of the hospital. Clearly it’s important to reduce the need for hospitalization, both from a clinical and a cost standpoint, says Dr. Robert S. Epstein, Chief Medical Officer, Medco Health Solutions. Christopher-Paul Milne The increase in pediatric labeling will improve the overall health of children, who comprise 25% of the U.S. population, says Christopher Milne, Assistant Director of Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. Diana Farrell According to Diana Farrell, Director of the McKinsey Global Institute, many of the leading pharma players have set up pilot offshoring programs, either captive or through vendors, yet a wide gap still exists between the number of service jobs that they could locate remotely and the actual number of jobs that they have located offshore or plan to offshore by 2008. Follow up Advanced Analytics Inc., New York, a division of FIND/SVP Inc., is a knowledge services company that leverages the expertise and resources of its professional research teams to help its member clients protect and further their business interests. For more information, visit findsvp.com. Ernst & Young LLP, New York, provides a range of services, including accounting and auditing, tax reporting and operations, tax advisory, business risk services, technology and security risk services, transaction advisory, and human capital services. For more information, visit ey.com. Medco Health Solutions, Franklin Lakes, N.J., manages prescription drug benefit programs that are designed to drive down the cost of pharmacy healthcare for private and public employers, health plans, labor unions, and government agencies of all sizes. For more information, visit medco.com. Medical Broadcasting Company, Philadelphia, a member of the WPP Group, is a full-service healthcare interactive marketing agency. For more information, visit mbcnet.com. McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), New York, is an independent economics think tank within McKinsey & Co. For more information, visit mckinsey.com. Nielsen//NetRatings, New York, is the global standard for Internet audience measurement and analysis and is the industry’s premier source for online advertising intelligence. For more information, visit nielsen-netratings.com. Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD), Boston, provides strategic information to help drug developers, regulators, and policymakers improve the quality and efficiency of pharmaceutical development, review, and use. For more information visit csdd.tufts.edu.