The world is changing and so is the approach to medical science. Gone are the days when research was more experimental and drugs were discovered by chance. Today all investments by pharmaceutical (pharma) organizations is well evaluated expecting a credible outcome from the research and development of new drugs.

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The pharma industry is undergoing a revolution and engaging with all stake holders to ensure that their resources are utilized in the right direction. Setting new standards of care which is more beneficial to the society as a whole is also one of the primary objectives. But imagine a scenarios wherein all the good work is not informed adequately and on time to the Health Care Practitioners (HCPs) and to the patients in a language they understand it the best. The complex clinical trial data and statistical analysis is the last thing they can spare time to look at.

Doctors today need things to be simplified in a way they can understand and also saves their time prior to applying it in their clinical practice.

And who do you think can do this best?

If you think the researchers or investigators can do it then try reading an original research article published in any scientific journal. You will realise that it is not always so easy to interpret clinical trial results and definitely not enough to change practice patterns immediately. Such published information need to be translated into something simple and more practical that can also provide logical answers to the research questions or unmet therapeutic need.

The bigger question: Who is more enabled to draw the parallel between science and its real-world application. This is where the medico-marketing role comes into action.

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The literal understanding of the term “medico-marketing” is a close collaboration between medical and marketing team to develop an effective strategy for better acceptability of a drug or clinical data in the doctor’s chamber. This also means an ethical and evidence based marketing of drugs to HCPs. It cannot be left to the marketing team alone to devise a sales strategy for a drug.

The marketing or sales pitch may merely mean nothing to the customers, in this case a Doctor and may sound like a regular jargon if it is not backed by a solid scientific communication. Most Doctors have a mind-set that a sales representative is meeting them with an objective of promoting drugs and demanding business. But this has to change with the changing expectations from the HCPs.

The role of sales function has now expanded to bring Value in the Doctors chamber in terms of providing solutions more efficiently and to influence the practice of medicine by driving discussion on guidelines, newer published evidences, real world data etc.

The medico marketing teams can:

  • Ensure adequate training of the sales team to deliver scientific information more effectively.
  • They can help draw a patient profile during a sales call to make discussions more meaningful. This approach is more effective and has higher acceptability as it brings the sales representative on the same page with the Doctor and together they can come up with solutions with an ultimate aim to improve treatment outcomes.
  • The medical and marketing brains can together devise a solid medico marketing strategy which takes into account all the above strategic pillars backed by a strong medical rationale.

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Thanks to the wealth of information available on the internet, today the patients are well informed about treatment options. Patient safety should never be compromised. This increases the onus on medico marketing professionals who also are the custodian of good promotional practices. It makes sense since ethical promotion of drugs is a mandate by the regulators that every pharma company should follow and adhere to.

The New Buzzword “Scientific Engagements”: Another area which falls under the domain of medico marketing is scientific engagements. HCPs depend heavily on educational meetings like congress, symposia, digital meetings like webinars, webcasts etc. to update their knowledge and skills. Often sharing of experiences by an international speaker adds a lot to improve patient care. The medico marketing function in the pharma organizations are best equipped to drive such academic activities. They are in a better position to understand and interpret scientific data and devise a communication plan for the HCPs. They are far from the sales pitch as they are expected and trained to provide unbiased approach and answers to medical queries and meet knowledge gaps. They are trained to bring science to value and provide a tailored approach.

The medico marketing approach can therefore bridge the gap between marketing, sales and HCPs effectively. Many medical and pharma graduates are entering into pharma companies in medico marketing role as an alternate career option and some management institutes also offer courses in pharmaceutical marketing.

The Medical Scientific Liaison (MSL) role is also specifically designed to tackle these challenging dynamics in the evolving Indian pharma industry.  Hence medico marketing is the way forward for every Indian pharma organization.

Author: Dr. Amit Shriram Thavkar, a Pharma Professional with more than 10 years of experience in Medical Affairs. You can reach out to him at mail id: amit.thavkar@gmail.com

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