29. February 2012 10:18
Pf Editor, Chris Ross, asks who pharma’s customers really are as the NHS reforms continue to progress.
The journey towards NHS reform was always likely to be a long and painful one for the coalition government – but, as opposition to the Health & Social Care Bill grows stronger by the day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict where the journey will end. At present, Royal Assent seems many miles away.
But despite the fierce political and ideological objections to the proposals, in many parts of the country the NHS has already ventured some way along the roadmap to reorganisation. Embryonic Clinical Commissioning Groups are steadily establishing themselves across England, and the transfer of powers from PCTs to the new commissioning organisations is well underway. It is likely to prove costly for NHS productivity and patient care if the journey to reform finds itself at a dead end and the Kill the Bill movement finally succeeds.
Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months, the ramifications for the pharmaceutical industry have already been significant. Since the introduction of PCOs, PCGs, PCTs and, of course, NICE in the early 2000s, UK pharma companies have spent the best part of a decade trying to establish exactly who their customers are and realigning their sales and marketing efforts accordingly. During that time, it’s become increasingly clear that a one-size-fits-all solution to customer segmentation will not work, and that the identity of so-called ‘key accounts’ will vary from region to region, and disease area to disease area. In such a dynamic and fast-moving environment, the work of field-based medical sales professionals becomes ever more important. The role of the rep may have been redefined in the past ten years, but while numbers on the ground have dropped significantly, their value to UK pharma in a changing marketplace has only increased.
Chris Ross, Editor.