Inoculation and Mutation
ON JULY 10, 2008, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a large trade organization of pharmaceutical companies, substantially revised its governing code. Among other changes, PhRMA banned the use of promotional products intended for health-care professionals, with the exception of items purely educational in purpose.
Slated to take effect January 1, 2009, the new code will cut the once-vast array of promotional products available to the pharmaceutical industry down to a few select items. Given these major changes, many distributors are surely wondering what their next move should be. To help explain which promotional items pharmaceutical companies are still interested in purchasing, Claire Edmondson, senior product manager for the drug Lovaza at the Philadelphia-based marketing headquarters
for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), spoke with Promo Marketing.
WORD FROM THE INSIDE
“We take the guidelines really seriously,” Edmondson stated. “Basically, we’re not giving out any pens, pads or premiums. Anything that is not medically relevant—all that stuff that we used to do—we will not be spending money on anymore. We take that seriously.”
As for what products Edmondson would still be open to using for promoting Lovaza, she said a lipid handbook for a physician would be a good example of a medically relevant item. “Maybe a model, maybe a wall chart,” she continued. “But, less and less of that. We’re not going to spend a lot of money there. [But] anything we give to the doctor is going to be educationally based.” She added, however, that promotional spending would vary across drug brands, meaning that Lovaza’s promotional spending may be larger or smaller than other products within the company.
GSK ia also willing to spend money on selling materials created as aids for pharmaceutical reps. These items, as Edmondson described, are FDA-regulated, clinically verified printed pamphlets and brochures that facilitate communication between health-care professionals and pharmaceutical salespeople. They’re designed to help make an immediate sale.