The ax is coming to pharma budgets

QUICK READ: Budgets for DTC and HCP marketing are going to get face huge cuts through the end of the year. In addition/ companies are deciding how to cut salesforce budgets. As one executive told me “this is going to be bad”.

What do you do with an idle sales force? You can schedule training but there i only so much training you can do. In all likelihood pharma companies are faced with two choices. First, they could layoff people which could be a PR and personnel nightmare or they could ask sales and MLS staff to take temporary pay cuts. Idle company cars cost money as do expenses like Internet access and cell phone bills.

You would think that despite the current pandemic people still need their medications but acquiring new patients is going to be difficult as people avoid doctor’s offices.

Then there is DTC. According to a marketing survey, I read 48% of CMO’s say the pandemic has effected their marketing planning and budgets. Right now it would be a huge waste of money to try and launch a new drug. Instead, DTC and HCP marketers should be doing some scenario planning around how the public is going to change behaviors because of the pandemic.

In talking with some people within the industry they said they are having problems even testing messages. Market research is in a holding pattern and budgets are frozen. One DTC Director told me that anything over $10k has to get multilevel approvals.

Smart companies are preparing for the future; shortsighted ones are only interested in making the balance sheet look good.

In times like these people are learning to differentiate fake health news from credible health news. While we all want a vaccine for the virus we know that one can’t be developed quickly without sound scientific testing. To move fast, without accurately analyzing data, puts lives at risk.

On the plus side, many organizations are now asking me more about reaching doctors online. Will digital replace salespeople? I doubt it but it may open some eyes as to its effectiveness.

The ax is coming and agencies should be prepared. Whether it will lead to layoffs is anyone’s guess but pharma above all is a business that will do whatever it has to to survive.