Pharma brands must adapt

23 March 2012

NEW YORK: Brand owners in the pharma category currently face a "hurricane" of change, meaning most are seeking to transform their marketing strategies, research has revealed.

Booz & Company and National Analysts Worldwide surveyed 156 marketing and sales executives, mostly boasting global responsibilities, at leading pharma firms in the European Union and US.

Some 44% of the panel "agreed" that existing business models are "broken", while 24% "strongly agreed" with this statement. A further 22% were "neutral" on this matter, but only 9% disputed the notion.

Among the main obstacles impacting the sector are growing price and budgetary issues, on 76%, the need to demonstrate cost effectiveness on 70% and increasingly restricted market access on 69%.

Rising competition from generic drugs recorded 60% of the same metric, as branded goods come under rising pressure from low-cost alternatives, a process beginning when patents expire.

"The pharmaceutical industry is the eye of a hurricane of change. The sales and marketing model is being forced to move to one that is much more complex," said Danielle Rollmann, a partner in Booz & Company's global health practice.

"This is happening in an uncertain market with incredible pressure to reduce budgets. The only clear path out of the storm is for companies to identify and focus on building the few critical capabilities they will need to succeed."

In response to such challenges, 59% of participants reported both that their pricing strategies were set to be modernised, and that they would adopt an "innovative" approach in this area.

Another 56% prioritised closer collaborations with the payors buying their products, and 55% expected to undertake greater numbers of pharmacoeconomic studies to ascertain the value of different drugs.

Elsewhere, 51% predicted they would construct new service models, 48% anticipated implementing more direct-to-consumer initiatives and 47% are focusing on patient adherence.

In terms of communications, social media will also play an enhanced role, as 58% of organisations are going to utilise this medium to engage physicians, and 48% hope to reach patients in the same way.

A 55% majority of pharma firms will spend more on mobile, while search engine optimisation posted 49%, product and disease-related websites yielded 48% and patient advocacy portals logged 37%.

Data sourced from Booz & Company; additional content by Warc staff