Maxine Vaccine interviews two directors at Bona Pharma who are brightening the grey landscape of medical sales.
I’m soaking up the cosmetically enhanced atmosphere of Battersea’s Vauxhall Tavern when the leaders of Bona Pharma flounce subtly into view.
Managing Director Julian and Sales Director Sandy have brought style and verve to the strait-laced world of the pharma industry.
“We beat that Adele to the first name only thing,” Sandy assures me. “She copied our shoes as well.”
Reassuringly, they follow industry convention in one respect: they never get a round in. I order four happy hour cocktails (two for me, one each for them), and the Q&A begins.
Pf: “These are hard times for the pharmaceutical industry. The leading drug companies have all fallen over the patent cliff. How can they drag themselves up again?”
Julian: “Trolling reps everywhere, Sophie Hipgrave is your guide – follow her through the hazardous forest of fashion choices to the emerald city of fantabulosa.”
Sandy: “Most pharma is a work of performance art in the medium of naff. The industry needs to learn that pinstripe is not the only suit.” (Shudders.)
The duo have recently returned from an antipodean business trip. We debate the relative merits of their Bushwackers and my Brandy Alexander. Maybe some day we’ll design a head-to-head clinical trial.
Pf: “Is it fair to say that your marketing has ensured Bona Pharma has a strong rep in the outback?”
Julian: “Yes indeed. We miss him though.”
Pf: “Bona Pharma is known for its niche products. What success stories did 2012 bring you?”
Sandy: “We did well with our erectile dysfunction drug abonafil. But there was one customer who claimed it had worked a bit too well. The poor omi sued us for causing him to suffer from priapism. Though it had boosted his call rates no end.”
Julian: “Didn’t stand up in court.”
Pf: “Of course, the market is changing radically, even in the UK. How has Bona Pharma responded to the shift of healthcare into the community?”
Julian: “Well, I have a check-up once a week. He’s got an extended visa.”
Sandy: “Very extended at certain times. Never vada’d the like.”
Pf: “One question our readers will be keen to hear your answer to. How useful are recruitment companies to pharma?”
Sandy (sadly): “Elton John syndrome. Great voice, nante riah.”
Pf: “What one thing about pharma would you change?”
Julian: “Its name. Every farmer I’ve met has been into market penetration in quite the wrong way.”
Another round of happy hour cocktails – my expense account covers a multitude of gins – and then it’s time for the final question.
Pf: “In an era when Parliament is voting to legalise gay marriage, is there still any need for an underworld gay dialect designed to keep secrets and spread rumours?”
Sandy: “This is pharma, dear. Secrets and rumours are the world.”