PharmExec Blog

Pharma's Chaos Scenario: Why the Old Commercial Model Just Won't Cut It

By Peter Houston, Director of Content, Advanstar Communications.

A couple of years ago I spoke at a Life Sciences Forum organized by Oracle. The audience was 100-percent life science and IT professionals, but I spoke about the magazine business. Why? Cynics say because I don’t know enough about science or IT, but really it was more to do with the changes that the magazine market was facing and their relevance to the pharma market.

I won’t get into the woes of magazine publishers here. If you really want to know more read The Chaos Scenario by Advertising Age writer Bob Garfield, or if you don’t have time watch the You Tube video promotion of the book. Both book and video do a great job of describing the implosion of centralized mass media, the rise of digital alternatives and the growing importance of listening to what your customers want.

I only bring my presentation and Mr Garfield up because I was reminded of them by title of the keynote at the iPharmaConnect conference to be held in Philadelphia later this month. Pozen EVP Liz Cermak will be talking about Pharma’s very own Chaos Scenario: the revolution of the traditional pharma commercial model and how “the old model just won’t cut it.”

Liz Cermak says that pharma’s attempts to get brand’s in front of HCPs in any meaningful way, is becoming “highly unlikely” and “unappealing” to customers. Like Bob Garfield talking to dead-tree publishers, she calls on Pharma to “get with the program” and “fish where the fish are.”

Like so many magazine readers, HCPs have gone digital and the internet, not sales people, is their number one source for information.  And it’s obvious why — they can get information when they want it, where they want it and how they want it. Patients too.

No one is denying that the challenges in the digital pharma space are enormous, not least the lack of clear regulatory guidance. The good news is that, unlike a couple of years ago, when I was speaking to Oracle’s audience,  some major pharma brands are developing their digital IQ and are some real success stories out there for everyone to learn from.

Cernak sees the potential not just the problems. Putting her money where her mouth is, she has formed a digital advisory board at Pozen to bring in ideas from non-pharma brands like Pepsi and Walmart and from digital superstars like Marc Monseau formerly of J&J and Daniel Palestrant of Sermo.

The iPharmaconnect conference takes place in Philadelphia March 26th through 28th.

Peter Houston.

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