Industry self-destruction?

The pharma industry, at least in the HCP and DTC areas, is on a path to self-destruction. Why is the industry so slow to adapt and learn and do what’s necessary to help online health seekers make informed and educated decisions? Why aren’t organizational changes implemented in a culture of “decisions by meetings”?

Yesterday I needed to talk to a Director about an opportunity, but he was in an “all-day” meeting. When he finally called me at 5:30, the door had closed on the possibility that it could have yielded excellent results at a great price. This is the environment that pharma operates in today.

As social media advertising starts to decline, more advertisers are taking another look at TV, including new opportunities in streaming advertising. Pharma TV spots are repetitive and very rarely creative. They blame ” a regulated industry,” but the problems go deeper than that. They start with the moving chess pieces of pharma employees and extend to agencies who believe that pharma clients are “ripe” for milking money.

I’ve talked about the high-frequency problem and wasting money, yet it’s still happening. Tepezza is an example of a really bad DTC, given the small audience. The reality is that online health seekers have changed their behavior, but pharma has not.

Pharma product websites still read like medical journal ads. If online health seekers want more information, they turn to social media and sites like WebMD. What they often want to know to make a decision is how much the drug costs, the side effects, and what current patients have to say.

In a recent research project I undertook, I found that many online health seekers were reading information about a drug being advertised to lower A1C. We found a lot of interest in lowering A1C, but when the audience went online, they found side effects that scared them off. The brand did nothing to respond to these issues, even though qual research showed that information written by an HCP would go a long way to quiet their concerns.

HCP marketing is also heading a derailed track. Drug reps are still waiting in lobbies to drop off samples or being turned away by administrative help. HCPs don’t want marketing messages; they want data and access to trial information.

The hiring process within pharma is antiquated. Most candidates have to go through a series of interviews, and there is too much focus on education instead of accomplishments. Do you really need a Ph.D. for a Medical Laison Director?

I’ve been in the industry a long time, and it’s incredible how little has changed even though there have been so many changes in the market. Self-destruction is sad to watch.