Work Place Invaders

by IainBate 5. March 2013 15:46

We’re often plagued by the idea that somehow – perhaps in a different city, company or even civilisation – we could be reaching new, higher, dizzier heights. Especially when you see rival colleagues using the latest mobile, tablet devices or driving off into the sunset in that brand new hatchback – yes, the one with the heated seats you saw on Top Gear last month – and giving you an obscene salute as they do so.

But is there any definitive way of knowing if you’d be better off somewhere else? Of course, there are those generic online tools that give you the average salary of every Londoner under the age of 90. But they are probably not the best benchmarking tools to use when plucking up the courage to ask your boss for a pay rise, during one of those awkward appraisals. Although, there is another way.

The Pf Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey – which is now in its 12th year – provides a comprehensive temperature check on the essential elements of everyday working life for those toiling away in the medical sales sector. It gives those working within the pharmaceutical industry in the UK the opportunity to have their say on what matters the most to them.

The Survey has now been completed by more than 14,000 medical sales professionals since it was first launched in 2001. It accurately portrays the views of the industry on important motivation and satisfaction factors such as remuneration, bonuses, work-life balance, job security and company culture. Pharmaceutical bosses can also see how long their staff actually spend on CRM systems whilst in the field and also discover whether employees have had their head turned by that eye-catching aqua blue sports car and are ready to jump ship.

Yet it’s not just pharmaceutical companies who bene t from the results. The Survey is a friend to all. Much like a Swiss army knife, it has various tools and attributes to help those who access it. It’s a pen knife one minute slashing dated contracts of employment then a bottle opener the next popping open the bubbly to celebrate an improved Employer of Choice ranking place.

The Employer of Choice

Another facet to the Survey is the coveted Employer of Choice rankings. Respondents are asked to choose the company they’d most like to work for within the industry – bar their own of course! ­The company chosen the most wins the Employer of Choice gong. Simple.

In recent years it’s been a two horse race for the EoC accolade. Boehringer Ingelheim and Roche have got toe-to-toe for the top spot since 2007. But it’s been Boehringer which has come out on top for the last six years as the company which is deemed to be the most desirable to work for within the industry. Nick Doe, Sales Director, BI, says the credit must be placed at the company’s skilled workforce for keeping the company in the prized top spot for so long. “It is a real credit to everyone in our field force, our managers and all at Boehringer Ingelheim who are dedicated to putting the patient at the centre of the everything we do.”

The Employee

One experienced key account manager – who wished to remained anonymous, from a medium-sized pharmaceutical company – used the salary comparison tool to negotiate an improved deal after finding out she was being paid less than her industry counterparts. “I was quite surprised actually when I first read in Pf that I was being paid less than other people doing my job in the industry. In fact, I always considered myself to be well paid for the job that I do. For that reason I’d never really explored what other KAMs with the same level of experience were on – especially as I’d been with my company for a few years. I just assumed we’d all be on around the same figure. However, when I read one of the articles on salary in Pf and realised I could be getting more money elsewhere I couldn’t just ignore that fact.

“I went to speak with my superior to discuss a pay rise and showed him the comparison with other key account managers with my level of experience and how much more money they were receiving compared to me. Discussing money is always a tricky subject but the facts and figures were there in black and white to support my case. Thankfully the matter was addressed pretty swiftly. I’m so glad I took part in the survey and read the survey articles. Without the Pf Survey results I’d still be underpaid and none the wiser.”

Anonymous Key Account Manager from a medium-sized pharmaceutical company: you’re welcome.

The Employer

€The results from the Survey may have seen certain pharma companies having to dig a little deeper into their pockets to ensure valued staffŠ members are kept happy and motivated. But the data resulting from the survey results is valued in other ways. It’s not only field-based employees who keep a keen eye on the main motivating factors which matter to respondents. Pharma companies use these to entice hot talent away from competitors and keep their own main players happy.

When employees at Astellas raised concerns around a recent change to the car policy one year, the survey witnessed the biggest ever shift in one parameter when it acted upon the suggestions of staŠff and improved its company car scheme. Astellas wasn’t the only pharma company to listen to its staffŠ after the survey results were published.

Lundbeck UK calls upon its staffŠ to voice opinions on important decisions – a move which has seen them outscore industry rivals in a number of parameters. “€The scores that we have had for the latest survey results are significantly higher than that of our industry colleagues,” Helen Carberry, Lundbeck UK Head of Human Resources and Development said.

“We consistently outperform in the industry averages. Ratings for ‘belief in products’ is really strong and that is our highest satisfactory score. Also, for ‘company culture’ we are almost double the score across the industry in that parameter,” Helen added.

Yet these top-of-the-table rankings have not come about by chance, as explained by Helen. “We do have a real focus on people here at Lundbeck UK,” she said. “It’s something which is important to us because that is ultimately how we achieve our results. We have high levels of loyalty and commitment within the organisation, and our own internal satisfaction survey highlights that.

“In terms of our strategy, there are three pillars which support everything that we do. One of those pillars is being great place to work. We set out this year, very much like the 12 months prior to that, that our focus is on delivering excellent results, delivering value to customers, whilst also being a great place to work. As part of that, developing people and living our culture are the two main foundations which support that strategic pillar of being a great place to work. People are really, really important to us.”

This was re™flected as Lundbeck UK was awarded the Best Companies One Star Accreditation in 2012. € The company now aims to build on the success of its survey results as it adapts to the changing market place in the UK. “We are a lean organisation, which means we are very, very ™ exible. We have developed a structure that can be either built on as and when new products come through or simply added to over time. Lundbeck UK can only go from strength to strength.”

€The 2013 Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey can now be completed at It is managed by Dr B Payne of Conker Statistics (a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society) and provides a benchmark of field force remuneration, motivation, satisfaction, perception and recruitment. Confidentiality is of paramount importance and your anonymity is therefore guaranteed. It takes only minutes to have your say at

More than just a guessing game

by Admin 2. October 2012 14:22

NHS engagement is about combining thorough market intelligence with a robust targeting plan.

 The imminent authorisation of the first wave of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) promises to provide Key Account Managers with yet more information on which they can base their call strategies. By November, 35 CCGs will hope to have successfully navigated the comprehensive authorisation process and be approved to take on their new commissioning duties from April 2013. A further 177 prospective CCGs will be reviewed across the final three authorisation waves, with decisions on all the new local organisations expected by the end of January 2013. The dawn of a new era for commissioning is almost upon us. And as the reform rhetoric turns into reality, a new customer landscape for UK pharma will have emerged.

The four-wave authorisation process will place into the public domain a wide range of important documentation that was required not only to support individual CCG applications but, more importantly, to provide strategic blueprints for the long-term development of these embryonic local health organisations. Key documents include Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, Commissioning Intentions, Integrated Plans, Joint Health & Wellbeing Strategies, Organisational Structure Plans and draft Joint Commissioning Agreements. In some of the more proactive local organisations, such information is already available.

Elsewhere, it remains in late-stage development. Either way, the data and plans set out in these documents will undoubtedly provide crucial insights for KAMs targeting existing, new and emerging decision-makers and influencers at the local level.

And therein lies the problem. Identifying the most important and influential stakeholders in a changing NHS remains one of UK pharma’s biggest challenges. Earlier this year, the NHS Alliance’s Chief Officer, Mike Sobanja, said that the industry was about to embark on a game of ‘Spot the Commissioner’. He was not wrong. But to win, medical sales professionals tasked with the responsibility for identifying and developing key customer accounts must take the gaming metaphor a stage further and set about playing a conventional game of ‘Guess Who?’ Unfortunately, winning won’t be child’s play – it will require an insightful and educated approach.

But guess who, indeed. The current reorganisation of the NHS is bringing an increasing number of players to the table. Alongside CCGs, the Department of Health has recently published further details on the establishment of 27 Local Area Teams (LATs). Ten of these will be specialist commissioning hubs; the remainder will be afforded a variety of commissioning responsibilities. In addition, commissioning will be supported by 12 Clinical Senates, whose full remit is, as yet, unclear. Beyond this, the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) – which itself will exert major influence over local commissioning plans – has more recently rebranded commissioning support services as Commissioning Support Units (CSUs). The NHS CB is currently conducting an authorisation process that will determine which organisations will provide ‘scale services’ to support CCGs – and has approved 23 to date. Critics claim the new CSUs look suspiciously like PCTs.

Regardless, it’s clear that in the very near future, pharma will find some of its key customers are housed in a CSU. They will also reside in fledgling Health & Wellbeing Boards. Undoubtedly, the new commissioning landscape will present a complex customer matrix for the industry.

Such is the speed and scale of the reforms that targeting customers in an environment that appears to be changing on a daily basis could easily be reduced to a guessing game. But pharma’s approach needs to be much more sophisticated than that. KAMs know that the old-school ‘noise-based’ approach to customer engagement will no longer work. Call plans must be targeted and efficient. But how?

Guess who?
The challenge really is like playing a giant NHS-themed game of Guess Who? Figuratively, every KAM has their own game board. The characters on it will differ, in terms of remit and influence, from one local health economy to another. And they will also be dependent upon disease area. A fully comprehensive board will comprise a mixture of clinicians and payers, as well as, potentially, influencers from social care and local authorities. Crucially, the game is as much about ruling out irrelevant customers as it is about identifying key targets. The former will determine the latter. The most adept sales professionals will be those who command sufficient market knowledge to be able to discern between an important stakeholder and a non-starter. They will then be able to use this information to form an efficient call strategy. Market data will clearly inform these targeting decisions. And there is a lot of it out there.

The imminent arrival of strategic documentation emanating from the CCG authorisation process will be just the latest in a deep mine of useful NHS data available to the industry. From QOF data to QIPP plans, HES data to CQUIN frameworks, the modern NHS is generating performance data, indicators and metrics at a rapid rate of knots. Used properly, it can be gold dust.

Local health organisations are being measured on their ability to eliminate variation in care, reduce hospital admissions and improve health outcomes. And they are increasingly required to report on how they are faring against these objectives. Proactive KAMs can use this data to develop messages that target commissioners of care and demonstrate how their drugs can impact service delivery in line with known priorities.

But data is only part of the answer. On its own, information is not enough. Success will only come from having an understanding of what it means, and establishing how it can be targeted in the right direction. A KAM can have all the data in the world, but if they are not able to translate it into an offering that demonstrates a meaningful gain for a customer, it is worthless.

The key account management game of Guess Who? will ultimately be led by the messaging you have developed, which, in turn, will have been driven by local circumstances and those customer needs identified within relevant market data. If you have a health economic message, certain clinical customers can be ruled out. If your value proposition can make a difference to a QOF target, once again, it will dictate a more precise customer group and eliminate others.

The rapidly expanding availability of NHS information promises great national and local insights for KAMs – and the Department of Health’s recently published Information Strategy indicates that a growing emphasis is being placed on the need to capitalise on the promise of data to drive improvements in patient care. But medical sales professionals must not lose sight of the fact that once they have reviewed all the available data and determined their product messaging, they still need to identify the key customers with whom those messages will most resonate. And they must then tackle the industry’s other long-standing challenge: gaining access to them. Having something to offer that can help customers meet their own objectives provides the best possible chance to achieve this.

So it’s clear that, faced with an evolving NHS bedeviled by rising demand, reduced resources and major reorganisation, productive industry engagement will only come through the development of a market access strategy that marries environmental intelligence with accurate customer targeting. This all links back to the need to establish a robust CRM strategy that integrates all aspects of customer data into a single platform, and communicates them effectively and efficiently across the commercial organisation. This approach will prevent KAMs going off in different directions and developing flawed strategies based on poorly-interpreted information.

In a dynamic, fast-changing market, only meaningful engagement that communicates the right message to the right customers will make any discernible difference. Anything else will be pure guesswork.

David Round is General Manager, UK at Cegedim Relationship Management.

Last gang in town

by Admin 31. August 2012 10:57

CCGs are the core of the new NHS – but are they running the game?

 The emerging clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) embody a core principle of the new NHS: that commissioning decisions should be made locally, by clinicians, and be focused on community-based care. According to Andrew Lansley, the defining feature of the NHS reform is a “shift of power” from national and regional organisations to local ones, of which the CCGs are the most important.

The role of CCGs in the new NHS is both structural and dynamic. They will commission healthcare at a local level, spending £60 billion of the £80 billion NHS commissioning budget, and will hold together the relationship between patients and providers. They will also work with providers and business partners to redesign local services, and those new solutions will spread through the NHS. The CCGs will thus be the drivers of healthcare innovation.

However, given that GPs are meant to lead the CCGs, the concerns raised by many GPs about the new system are significant. Will CCGs really have the opportunity to improve care, or will they simply have to drive through spending cuts? Will they really be run by clinicians or by the private sector? Is the heart of the new NHS dynamic and responsive, or divided and unstable?

Development of CCGs

In July 2010, the white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS spoke of “putting GP commissioning on a statutory basis” through the development of ‘GP consortia’. These new organisations, to which every GP practice would belong, would run each local health economy: they would contract providers, partner with local authorities, and be accountable to patients and the public for outcomes. They would be authorised by a new national body, the NHS Commissioning Board, which would also commission GP services.

The initial reaction of the GP community was positive. Being in the driving seat of a fast-evolving NHS, able to redesign local services for their patients, appealed strongly. However, the codification of the reforms in the Health and Social Care Bill led to growing opposition among GPs. Issues raised included the power of the Board to direct GP consortia and the requirement that consortia embrace provider competition. Above all, the deepening economic crisis made GPs fear their role would be one of rationing services, not finding solutions.

The Government’s ‘listening exercise’ did not resolve the concerns about competition and rationing, but it led to a stronger assertion of the autonomy of the consortia. An important change concerned the scope of clinical representation: the new ‘clinical commissioning groups’ were defined as including specialist consultants and nurses as well as GPs. That was a step towards the ‘integrated care’ that the BMA had highlighted as a priority.

Breaking the waves

The NHS Commissioning Board Authority, set up in October 2011, has the primary responsibility of putting in place a nationwide system of CCGs to replace the PCTs by April 2013. A total of 212 CCGs have been approved to go through the authorisation process in four waves: 35 in wave 1 (commencing in June 2012), 70 in wave 2 (July), 67 in wave 3 (September) and 40 in wave 4 (October).

The authorisation process is designed, according to the Board, to ensure that CCGs have a “strong clinical and multi-professional focus”; have meaningful patient engagement; have credible plans to “deliver the QIPP challenge”; have proper governance arrangements; are set up to collaborate with other CCGs, local authorities and the Board; and have strong leadership.

It has not always been a smooth road, however. The Board, concerned at the prospect of CCGs competing for providers of commissioning support, announced it would take over the appointment of leaders to Commissioning Support Services. One CCG has already protested that its authorisation has been delayed by this.

Another issue is lack of GP leadership. Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that only “about 25 GPs” in England were actively interested in leading local commissioning. The reason, she said, was that the “transactional” aspects of commissioning as a business did not appeal to them. 

GP-led commissioning

CCGs will be responsible for commissioning community health services (including mental health care and services for children and elderly people) and hospital care (both A&E and elective care). The NHSCB will be responsible for commissioning primary care as well as pharmaceutical and dental services. Local authorities will be responsible for public health, with the NHSCB covering certain aspects.

Collaborative working between CCGs and the other statutory organisations involved in healthcare is anticipated, but the model is not one of top-down control – rather, it is one of business partnership. The NHSCB can provide assistance or support to CCG commissioning; this may take the form of extra funding or access to staff and other resources. CCGs have a duty to co-operate with local authorities in supporting aspects of public health, including child health and mental health.

CCGs are able to buy in support from external organisations, including the CSUs whose development is currently being governed by the NHSCB. For more details on the CSU landscape. CCGs can also buy in support from the private and voluntary sectors, but will retain control of commissioning decisions. These relationships will differentiate CCGs, as some are keener than others to engage in private sector partnerships.

Commissioning of hospital services is also likely to differentiate CCGs, especially as many hospital trusts are facing financial challenges as they shift to foundation trust status. CCGs will influence the development of FTs through their commissioning strategies – for example, they may promote private providers both within and beyond FT-provided services. The acute sector will have a voice in CCGs, though its representatives on a CCG board cannot come from the local area.

The GP-led nature of CCGs is variable. Fewer than 50% of current CCG board members are GPs, and there is potential for the management of local commissioning to be outsourced. CCG boards should include a non-practice nurse and a specialist consultant, but local government are excluded.

Life after April 2013

Securing GP ‘buy-in’ remains an issue for the NHS reforms, but those GPs who support the reforms have been most active in developing CCGs. The CCG boards thus represent a more pro-market segment of the GP profession. Pharma companies may find that their CCG customers and GP customers require a nuanced and varied approach.

Each CCG will have a different mix of GPs, hospital clinicians and financial or management specialists. It will also be dealing with local health issues, which are also impacting on local government and the local Healthwatch body. Every CCG will have to find its own balance between clinical outcomes and economic success.

CCGs will also face a tension between the ‘autonomy’ stressed by the NHSCB and the need for partnership with other stakeholders, within and outside the NHS. Will this tension lead to fragmentation and paralysis, or to dynamic innovation driven by the local synergy of clinical and commercial talent? Whatever the answer, the CCGs hold the key to the success or failure of the new NHS.

Lundbeck and Otsuka partner to target psychiatric market

by Emma 11. November 2011 15:38


Pharmaceutical companies Lundbeck and Otsuka have formed a global alliance to deliver up to five new psychiatric and neuroscience drugs.

The Danish and Japanese pharma companies, both of which have a strong record in CNS products, have signed a sales and cost share agreement.

The alliance covers two near-term projects from Otsuka and an earlier-stage portfolio of psychiatric disorder treatments, encompassing psychotic, mood and behavioural disorders at all levels of severity, from Lundbeck.

The two companies have identified psychiatric disorders as a major area of unmet need.

Lundbeck is granted co-development and co-commercialisation rights to two Otsuka drugs: aripiprazole depot formulation (which improves compliance in users of the drug) and OPC-34712 (for schizophrenia and major depressive disorder).

Otsuka will have an option to co-develop and co-commercialise up to three early-stage compounds in Lundbeck’s R&D pipeline.

“With the addition of aripiprazole depot formulation and OPC-34712, Lundbeck has significantly broadened its growing psychiatry portfolio with exciting and unique treatments in an area of high unmet needs,” said Ulf Wiinberg, Lundbeck’s President and CEO.

“This collaboration further strengthens our US platform and allows us to be introduced with the US psychiatry community already in 2013."

Dr. Taro Iwamoto, President and Representative Director, Otsuka, commented: “We are very excited that Otsuka and Lundbeck have entered into a co-development and co-commercialisation agreement for aripiprazole depot formulation and OPC-34712, both potential key drivers of future growth for Otsuka’s CNS business.

“Lundbeck’s expertise in developing depression and anxiety treatments and Otsuka’s expertise in developing anti-psychotics will maximise the medical and commercial value of Otsuka’s portfolio in CNS. In addition, our partnership with Lundbeck will enable us to establish a strong platform to deliver these compounds to patients who need them.”

Through the sales and cost share agreement, Otsuka will receive up to US$1.8 billion from Lundbeck – which will see its psychiatry portfolio and US market penetration increase.

The combination of Otsuka’s strong presence in North America and Asia with Lundbeck’s strong presence in Europe, Canada and Latin America mean that the alliance will reach most of the global psychiatric market.

To infinity and beyond

by Emma 3. November 2011 15:22


Despite huge investments into CRM systems some pharma companies still struggle to get all of their staff to embrace and fully interact with them. Pf’s Iain Bate explores why, and what the future holds for technology in the industry.

There’s no doubt that technological developments have changed the way we live and work from year to year – maybe even from month to month in the 21st Century. But has the world of healthcare been travelling in the slow lane of the intergalactic highway?

The potential that technology offers to pharma, and the general world of healthcare, is enormous. But is the pharmaceutical industry, and its staff in particular, using it to maximise the returns of billion-dollar investments?

It would seem that technology is the ‘buzz word’ on the lips of a few of healthcare’s major players at present. The DH recently invited people to nominate their favourite health-related mobile phone ‘app’ – be it for keeping fit, to locate a hospital or chemist, or helping to manage an illness. Creative minds were also asked to design their own health app with a panel of DH judges deciding on their favourite from the most popular entries.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says it’s the Government’s intention to give people better access to information using modern technology and the exercise is a “unique opportunity for the NHS and those who develop apps to not only showcase their work, but to bring to life new ideas and realise true innovation in healthcare”.

As part of the DH’s technology revolution, patients may also soon be offered online consultations with their GPs using programmes such as Skype. Clearly the Government is embracing the convenience technology offers to patients, but are other sectors in healthcare as interested? It would seem there is still some way to go.


In two minds

Pf ’s 2010/11 annual Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey suggests that not all respondents are completely convinced by the power of technology in the workplace. Although the Survey – which relates to 2010 and the early part of this year – found that nearly 90% of respondents have access to a CRM system, only 43% find time to use it in the field and more than a fifth of people fail to accurately record post-call reports with important clients.

Questions have to be asked as to why, despite multimillion pound investment and training by pharma companies, there remains a percentage of staff that still ignore the power and potential of the technology at their finger tips.

Results from the Survey reveal there’s no difference in uptake by key account managers, primary and secondary care representatives, those in primary care roles only, firstline sales managers and secondline sales managers and the use of CRM technology between differing age groups – although surprisingly 10% of respondents in these positions with less than two years of experience said they did not have a CRM system, compared to just 5% more experienced colleagues.

The launch of the iPad in March 2010 promised to revolutionise the way sales representatives, and those in similar roles, use CRM systems in the field. However, nearly three-quarters (70%) of respondents from the Survey are still presently sent out with laptops containing their customer-relationship systems.

When quizzed on what they’d change about the hardware which houses their system, the majority of respondents said that their CRM was too awkward to carry, with poor running systems an issue and that batteries ran out too quickly. Apple claims its second-generation iPad now enjoys ten hours of use away from a plug socket in the field.

Yet the switch to the latest convenient tablet devices may not necessarily be about high levels of investment, it may be down to maximising value for money as Paul Shawah, Vice President, Multi Channel Strategy, Veeva Systems explains. “I would say the life cycle of devices within the industry is generally about three years, sometimes a little bit longer,” he said. “When a company invests in new technology they typically depreciate that over that period, so they don’t want to replace it in the field for that time to maximise their investment.

“However, with the introduction of game changing technology like the iPad, this has changed. We see a number of our pharmaceutical customers are justifying the business case to move to the iPad even before their tablets are fully depreciated. This speaks to the business benefit that pharma expects to achieve from the iPad and the related applications only available on that device.”

Pf Survey demographic and key CRM results

A convenient shield

Despite technology eliminating mundane process in the workplace and offering the potential to assist employees and improve their efficiency at work, it has historically been used as a shield to mask poor performance and abused as a means to waste company time – a recent online survey by AOL found that nearly half of Americans (44.7%) rank surfing the web as their primary activity during the two hours they ‘waste’ each day at work.

But it would seem that a high number of respondents do value the opportunities CRM offers. Almost two-thirds (64%) said they always enter correctly the amount of customer sales they make into their CRM. But 21% admitted they fail to always report face-to-face meetings with clients. More surprisingly, over a fifth of participants said they do not always record the number of products they had sold to clients.

The lack of honest accuracy is surprising considering the amount of time spent using CRM systems each day. A third said they spend between one and two hours a day on their system with a fifth spending three hours or more on their CRM. During their time using the management system, more than half (55%) said that call reporting was the most useful feature.

Although respondents were less impressed with the KAM abilities of their software with only 19% believing it to be the most useful facility. When questioned about what they would change given the chance, 45% said they wanted an improved database, over a quarter (28%) called for their system to be overall more useful, and 18% said they would prefer their CRM to be easier to use.


The next level

But what of the future of CRM systems? Will they be easier to use and have improved customer databases? David Round, General Manager, UK, Cegedim Relationship Management, says the regular interaction we now have with technology means we’ve all come to expect the latest developments.

“End users are significantly more ‘technology-savvy’ than their counterparts of even five years ago,” he explained. “If anything, the challenge for companies is to ensure that they provide their end users with the types of technology that they use as consumers. It’s also important to focus on the usability of your software to ensure maximum use. Technology companies – and pharma – must work together to develop a better understanding of the interaction, to ensure it meets users’ needs in the field.”

One main reason that users have become more ‘savvy’ is down to the use and interaction with social media. Whether at home or at work, websites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and most recently Google+ have driven an increased use of various forms of technology – especially on devices such as smartphones or tablet devices which reps are calling for in the field.

Pharma companies, both in the US and UK, have flirted with the idea of fully embracing the power social media harnesses, but at present are restricted by the PMCPA’s Code of Practice and by the FDA – who has again delayed the publication of its guidance.

The FDA says it is “difficult to provide a timeframe... due to the extensive work and review process, or ‘Good Guidance Practices’, which ensures that FDA’s stakeholders are provided well vetted guidances articulating FDA’s current thinking on a topic”.

Although the FDA may be unsure on how to direct healthcare companies, David Round believes the introduction, both professionally and personally, of social media has had an impact on staff and their expectations.

“For the modern professional person, much of their everyday life is conducted online – for example on shopping, utilities, insurance or booking a holiday – and many users then want the same level of capability from the tools they use in their job,” he added.

Dan Goldsmith, General Manager, Veeva Europe, agrees there has been a significant shift in the way we operate and interact due to our experiences online through tagged posts or hash-tagged searches. But although the 800 million users on Facebook – more than half which ‘log-on’ every day – and 175 million people on Twitter have no problem saying hello to friends, pharma finds it more difficult reaching out to people.

“Social media create a new avenue for healthcare dialogue and will only continue to pervade our lives,” said Dan. “Consequently, I believe that pharma faces two challenges. The first is to decide how to participate in the online dialogue with stakeholders and then to create those interactions through the channels we’re all familiar with, such as Facebook and Twitter.

“The second is to figure out how to leverage the model of social dialogue internally to support stronger collaboration and more focused communication among employees. Already, we see some companies taking advantage of the latest social business tools to connect employees with one another and to access and share information in real time.”

Clearly CRM solution providers understand the potential modern technology and social media platforms offer to companies. Whether pharma and its workforce get fully up to speed on the intergalactic highway sooner or later remains to be seen.

Top-five CRM benefits

Hundreds of sales and R&D jobs cut at Sanofi

by Emma 3. November 2011 11:15


Sanofi plans to cut hundreds of jobs in its sales and R&D departments in the US over the coming months.

The job losses come as the company prepares to lose patent exclusivity on key products and fully absorbs Genzyme following its acquisition in February 2011.

The sales jobs cuts would be focused on Sanofi’s cardiovascular and oncology groups, aiming for cost savings of $2.9 billion per year, said CEO Christopher Viehbacher.

More than 9,000 jobs have been cut at the company over the last several years, including approximately 3,800 sales employees in the US.

The staff reductions in mature markets have been similar at many other pharmaceutical companies, adding vacancies in emerging markets.

According to Mr Viehbacher, Sanofi has added more than 3,700 pharmaceutical jobs in emerging markets since 2008.

Sanofi overtakes Pfizer as world’s biggest drug company

by Emma 1. November 2011 12:50


Sanofi is expected to overthrow Pfizer’s nine-year reign as the world’s biggest drug maker, according to new research.

The French pharmaceutical company is expected to retain the top spot until at least 2016, with Pfizer falling to third place behind Novartis due to the loss of Lipitor’s US patent protection, according to EvaluatePharma (see figure one).

The report says that Sanofi’s numerous acquisitions over the last decade have contributed largely to the company’s success, gaining $20 billion after it bought out Genzyme.

Sanofi’s mergers over the last decade have contributed a great deal to its current position, starting with its $30 billion deal with Synthélabo in 1999.

It is expected that the company will retain its top position until at least 2016, mainly thanks to sales of enzyme replacement therapies through its acquisition of Genzyme.

Also, the company’s addition of Cerezyme and Myozyme blockbuster drugs will help fill the gap left by Lovenox, Taxotere, and Plavix, which loses US patent protection in 2012.

Pfizer’s $68 billion buyout of Wyeth in 2009 helped fill the gap left by Lipitor, but it will be difficult to replace the drug’s global sales figure of $13.4 billion seen in 2008, which set the record as the biggest selling medicine.

Following its loss of US patent protection in November 2011, Lipitor sales are estimated to shrink to $2 billion by 2016.

However, pipeline products such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pills tofacitinib and Eliquis are expected to boost Pfizer’s drug sales after 2016, which will help retain the company’s position in the top-five pharmaceutical companies.

Merck’s four-year outlook is seen as bleak despite its takeover of Schering-Plough for $41 billion in 2009, with only 1% annual sales growth predicted, conceding to European companies GlaxoSmithKline and Roche to overtake the company.

EvaluatePharma predicts that Johnson & Johnson’s recent pipeline successes will benefit the company in the coming years, despite its drugs arm being substantially smaller than the five biggest pharma companies.

It is thought that Novartis will be Sanofi’s closest competition over the next few years, with strong sales growth from Gilenya and Tasigna due to Diovan’s loss of patent protection next year.

Figure 1:

World's top 15 pharmaceutical companies

Contract sales revenues continue to grow

by Emma 5. October 2011 12:46


Global pharmaceutical contract sales revenues will reach $5.24bn in 2015, a new report predicts.

The World Pharma Contract Sales Organisation (CSO) Market 2011-2021 found that revenues will continue to grow over the next decade as pharma companies look to cut costs.

Richard Lang, pharmaceutical industry analyst, says pharmaceutical companies are turning to CSOs for “new approaches to sales, targeting doctors and healthcare payers”.

The report by Visiongain found that supplying sales teams was currently the largest source of revenue for outsourcing companies in 2010, accounting for 80% of the market.

Pharma companies based in the US, UK and Japan will continue reduce sales forces, the report predicts, in coming years, providing an opportunity for contract sales companies and sales teams.

An increased emphasis on speciality drugs will also require new procedures and expertise for CSO sales teams, the report says, with e-detailing, tele-detailing and medical science liaison having a greater prominence over the next ten years.

“Face-to-face detailing of healthcare professionals is still the most common pharmaceutical sales technique in many markets,” said Mr Lang. “However, with increasingly busy schedules, more and more doctors are implementing 'no-see' policies for sales reps.

“The drive to cut rising healthcare costs will increase the influence of payers in future prescribing decisions.”

The demand for contract sales services is also expected to continue to grow in emerging markets such as China and India, according to the report’s predictions, with companies seeking to enter or expand their sales field-force presence in these regions and rely increasingly on the local knowledge and expertise CSOs offer.

Diary of a self-confessed NHS budget-holder

by Emma 29. September 2011 15:21


How well do you understand the various priorities of a key element of your customer-base: the payer? Omar Ali pens Part II of a typical day in the life of a Formulary Pharmacist.

OK, we have been here before – this product is non-formulary. It has never been applied for. The GP is well within rights to refuse prescribing. The consultant knows it is non-formulary and has ‘requested’ via a letter – actually stating it is non-formulary, so would the GP kindly prescribe it.

The GP is irate, and the patient is now confused and unhappy: “why wont you prescribe what the expert/consultant has asked for?” There is a stalemate. Not a great scenario – this call is backed up with emails going back with two PCT advisers, a commissioner, a GP and a pain nurse. This will mean going to see the consultant and being firm: these are the rules of engagement, this is the financial framework, this is how I can help you manage your patient.

Thoughts for pharma

We call this ‘lockdown’. It’s a process by which redundancy is built into the formulary processes to ensure compliance, limited loopholes and consequential policing. What’s crazy is I know the brand, and I know the rep. Every month she asks: “when is the next D&T?” I tell her – and nothing happens. Next month, she asks again. So what’s happening?

The representative knows she needs a consultant to bring her brand to the D&T but can’t/won’t affect it. The representative then considers ways around the D&T; KOL to find loopholes, write to the GP, prescribe on FP10(HP), do a non-formulary request, try IFR, etc. In fact, exhaust all opportunities except the one that is needed: D&T approval.

Sometimes the pharma company has a brand philosophy which doesn’t press the right buttons: they have representatives calling the wrong people, the quality of the representative is not good enough, the seniority/decision-making-abilities are lacking.

This ‘lockdown’ effect will usually mean that the company goes round in circles. It focuses on new materials and a wonderfully articulated campaign – usually around ‘Edith’, a 50-year-old patient who is suffering from constipation and can’t enjoy her grandchildren. “If only you would prescribe the brand for her. You would if it was your own grandmother”.

The ‘payer avoidance’ strategy will not work. Lockdown is getting tighter. With Clinical Commissioning Groups it will be even more so. The financial framework will be more akin to trying to prescribe a non-formulary drug whilst working for BUPA, who would neither tolerate nor reimburse because the formulary is under a financial restrictions.

Indeed, the pain market has also intensified. This means numerous brands shouting for a louder voice in an intense market. Neuropathy, Opioids, Fentanyl/breakthrough Ca pain – add these up and you have pharma running around competing for a slice of the pie. Given all the warnings we had with COX-IIs, now we have them with NSAIDS, and of course even the weak Opioids have ‘addictive warnings’ all over them.

It is not surprising we are caught in the headlights of where to go in the name of safety and analgesia. Please someone, be it a brand manager or someone with payer access, see the bigger picture. Help us with the whole pathway. See our needs and work in partnership with us.

It’s not often I get a visit from a brand manager! We have been struggling for some time attempting to commission a funding pathway for an osteoporosis product – see earlier Matrix Revolutions. However, we may have a solution now with a variety of process mapping models.

I have finally received a number of options and interestingly the applicable HRG codes for activity within this domain. This has been a headache, despite a NICE TAG within the context of this ongoing saga. A resolution is long overdue. After a lot of liaising and a lot of technical HRG work-up, we may end up up with a streamlined prescribing pathway which lines up the PCT, the GPC, the acute trust, and fracture liaison service.

Thoughts for pharma

There is an intriguing change of paradigm when I am sat having an adult conversation with a brand manager compared to a ‘rep-call’. I realise that brand managers can’t go and see all their customers face-to-face.

But the paradigm shift is palpable. Why? Here we have it: The representative is ‘detailing me’ – that is never going to compare with an adult conversation with a brand manager who gets the bigger picture.

But something else, potentially more devastating: the brand manager is able to vocalise the ‘brand story’ in a far more compelling way than the ‘local rep’. That’s interesting, because the local rep is trained in the ‘brand messages’.

Even if you put aside that the brand manager has a ‘big picture understanding’, the fact that the value of the brand was unbelievably clear means that somewhere along the factory chain of sales force effectiveness and tier upon tier of managers, the message is lost in Chinese whispers. Why? I don’t actually know.

The representatives that are sent to see me are not in the same locator of food chain as I am. In effect, pharma is sending people of a certain authority that doesn’t fit with where I am. Even with account management. Remember, I talk clinical, I talk financial, I do commissioning maps, I do total drug budgets – I still have a boss.

However, pharma send people to see me with the following authority: “I need to get my medic to answer that…I need to get my line-manager to answer that…I need to call in my health economics person to see you…I need to call my regional account manager to approve that…”

When will I see all these people? Why do I need to see them all? Is it all ABPI, is it internal compliance, or is it sales force design? I’m not all for it, but I do see where some industry leaders are coming from in proposing authorised account managers answerable to MDs with budgets run at their own liability and expertise.

I recently did a ‘Payer Process Mapping Day’ for a pharma company/team of Executive Healthcare Development Managers. It fascinated me. Pharma has spoon-fed even higher NHS teams to such a level, that if you clear the playing field and ask them to come up with solutions to landscapes, they go blank. at day, the summarising  suggestions was simply: “we need a toolkit from head-office”. It was worrying. My conclusion?

We need to innovate within the NHS. Pharma companies are stakeholders. We should be asking you to help us innovate, but the people you are sending me… while I’m wanting them to look at the traffic jams I have ahead of me, and help navigate local influencing factors, they are waiting for a tool-kit from head-office!

Cardiology prescribing has so many focal features right now, I’m struggling to keep up with payer issues. This is due to a mixture of NHS demands, D&T processes, a sizable shift in coronary intervention work – and the drugs required within such units) and recent launches of new products that are proving challenging to implement within our health economy.

The format takes place as follows: I basically ‘gatecrash’ the forum and hijack a section of the agenda to use the opportunity for both information flow – in both directions, buy-in – to various prescribing initiatives, D&T processes and budgetary issues, and input to a number of shared-care-prescribing guidelines.

The aim is to open GPC/CCG cluster prescribing. A lot of this is about supportive communications; managing up – to my Chief and Director of Finance, and managing down – to pharmacy team on formulary policing. I need to take the consultants from ‘one place to another place’ within each micro-managed sub therapy. It’s a give-and-take scenario.

Thoughts for pharma

Cardiology has never really left the ‘priorities’ list. Right now, although there are some exciting and challenging implementations, I foresee a rocky road ahead. Antiplatelets. With the onset of generic clopidogrel’s price suddenly dropping like a stone – Plavix was £40 pcm, generic clopidogrel is now £2.50pcm, the Director of Finance is looking at the cost savings that we have built into our financial planning.

But here’s the catch – not only do we have branded prasugrel, we also now have branded ticagrelor, both pushing upward of £50pcm+. So how do we manage this? I have potential new pipleline antiplatelets which have offerings to interventional cardiology versus a savings plan that I will need to explain if I renege on. Tough. After much consternation, we’d put prasugrel onto our formulary, and now we have displaced this with ticagrelor.

We still have the generic clopidogrel as first line – but we always, always need a second line drug. Interestingly, neither company appears to have come forward with a QIPP line yet. One of them have thought about patient access schemes. NICE looks like it will be happy to support either. Cardiac networks play an important role – the cardiologists just want somewhere else to go after generic failure.

This was a learning curve for me. Whilst the clinical ‘story’ for either brand never really did magical wonders for the payers, the cardiac network is influential, and I think the companies are now maybe reconciling a ‘payer value story’.

There was a scary moment for one of the companies – a serious hospital discount nearly had us giving away one of the brands as a 12-month supply on the rucksack of a patient discharged from the angio suite – with a cost-saving share with the PCT. The company in question quickly made that disappear! It’s fascinating and like a game of chess sometimes…

Dronedarone. Even with a NICE TAG behind it, this has not been easy to implement. It really does take some serious ‘heads-together’ and I have never seen such fierce debate between clinicians and payers. Affordability and the increasing prevalence of AF makes for a great D&T discussion.

The next meeting I have with the directorate is to implement the use of this agent in young patients – outside NICE who recommended in 75yr+ – as the clinicians see greatest benefit here. This is where the payer’s approach needs serious consideration. All being well, I’ve managed to create an amber/shared care with PCT funding to keep all happy – let’s see what happens at the formalisation and authorisation meeting.

NICE chest pain implementation. There are significant stakeholders here with a number of large meetings across the PCT – payers, consultants, commissioners, coronary care units, etc. The implementation involves a number of small ‘mini-projects’, putting different drugs into the formulary for specific uses to help implement NICE.

That’s the way proper process mapping occurs. It’s more about the drug assisting the pathway, not about the drug per se. I see a lot of work to be done here. But I also expect to see consistency across the PCT.

Read Omar’s previous article in this series on Account Management in pharma.


Omar Ali is the Formulary Development Pharmacist for Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and sits on the External Reference Group for Cost Impact Modelling for NICE. He may be reached on

Market Access: Germany vs UK

by Emma 28. September 2011 16:34


In recent years the German government has introduced a series of reforms designed to radically cut the costs of drugs. With VBP being considered here in the UK, Dr Arnim Jost explains how these measures have affected pharma companies in Germany.

As the biggest pharmaceutical market in Europe and a price reference point for other European markets, success in Germany has always been essential for pharmaceutical companies. However, recent changes in legislation have combined to make Germany an increasingly tough challenge even for the pharmaceutical originators delivering innovative new drugs.

Germany was one of the last countries in Europe to allow pharmaceutical companies to determine prices. Now, with an estimated goal of cutting €2 billion from pharma spending, that is changing, with even new drugs facing tough value assessments before prices are set. With the UK Government considering the adoption of VBP, with fees negotiated on the scienti­fic assessment of a drug’s clinical value, once the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme expires in 2013, the impact of this change in Germany will be keenly watched by pharmaceutical companies in this country.

Price pressure

Since 2007 and the introduction of GKV-WSG (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung-Wettbewerbsstaerkungsgesetz), which allowed public insurers the chance to negotiate discount agreements with pharmaceutical companies for generics and off-patent products, companies have seen prices erode.

These public health insurers represent 90% of the population of 82 million, and hence have signi­ficant influence. Over the past twenty years there has been significant consolidation of these organisations, from 1,100 in 1990, to 226 in 2008, and 155 today.

Within the next three to five years that number is set to fall further to just 50. For pharmaceutical companies this consolidation is a double edged sword: there are fewer organisations to target and understand; but each insurer has a far greater buying power and can drive ever stronger discounts across the market.

Price pressure increased in 2010 with the GKV ÄndG (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung-Aenderungsgesetz), which demanded mandatory discounts for non-reference price products to increase from 6% to 16%, and introduced a retroactive price freeze for all non-reference price products from 1 September 2009 until 31 December 2013, a move expected to save €1.15 billion, according to

Innovative overspend

At this time, pharmaceutical companies were at least allowed to set prices for innovative new products after a drug’s introduction to the market. However, this changed in January 2011, in response to €32 billion spent on medicines by the public health insurers in 2009, creating a signi­ficant deficit.

With the Health Minister claiming innovative drugs were responsible for the overspend, a new law was passed which limits the amount that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to charge for new prescription drugs.

AMNOG (Arzneimittelmarkt-Neuordnungsgesetz) demands pharmaceutical companies provide a value dossier within three months of the product launch, demonstrating the medicine’s cost and bene­fits. If a new drug is found to have additional medicinal benefits, its price will be negotiated between the manufacturer and the insurers within a year.

However, maximum prices – reference prices, in Germany called “festbetrage” – will be set for drugs which do not have any additional benefits over an existing drug.

Evidence based

The implications for pharmaceutical company market access strategies are significant. Market access has now shifted towards justifying the price, towards conducting cost benefit analysis and evidence based medicine. Of course, for the first three months of any product’s life there is little opportunity to undertake evidence based assessment.

Companies in Germany are, therefore, now involving business units, including sales and marketing, up to 12 months before a product launch to create cost benefits dossiers and prepare the value arguments for the medical and pharma-economical experts within the regulatory bodies G-BA (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss) and IQWIG (Institut für Qualität und Wirtschaftlichkeit im Gesundheitswesen).

Companies now need access to greater depth of information regarding the decision makers within G-BA and IQWIG to determine the on-going strategy for this value-based assessment.

Indeed, this process requires far greater information resources – from therapy data, to information about comparable products and product costs. Pharmaceutical companies must now analyse the entire health chain, from diagnosis through therapy to rehabilitation to assess and demonstrate the true potential value of the new product.

They are not, however, as yet able to work effectively with hospitals to ensure drugs are used appropriately in order to achieve the expected benefits. Unlike the UK, where the NHS is being actively encouraged to co-operate with pharmaceutical companies to promote research, innovation and better practice, in Germany the boundaries between health provider and pharmaceutical company are still strong, with hospitals looking to optimise their own working practices without pharmaceutical co-operation.

Clinical autonomy

At primary care level, meanwhile, clinicians have limited opportunity for any strong decision making. Whilst the UK is now pushing hard to reinvigorate the role of clinicians within the health service, clinicians in Germany continue to lose decision making power. GP prescribing is strongly led by the discount agreements between pharmaceutical companies and the public insurance companies: if a prescription does not reflect the agreement, it will be automatically substituted by the pharmacist when it is fulfilled – unless the GP has specifically requested no substitution.

Similarly within secondary care, there is a lack of clinical empowerment. Many hospitals are part of purchasing groups, which has increased buying power, but limited the decision making options for both individual doctors and hospital pharmacists.

However, there are signs of a new level of interaction between pharmaceutical companies and health care services in Germany on the joint development of innovative services. Whilst in the past pharmaceutical companies were constrained from negotiating contracts direct with hospitals or doctors to deliver such services, over the past two years there has been a evolution towards more integrated healthcare contracts that have evolved beyond basic discounting towards shared risk models based on the joint delivery of services – most notably within diabetes.

Moving forward

Given the emphasis on the reduction of drug prices across Europe, the evolution of cost saving on pharmaceuticals within the German market is notable for any similar sized market place, such as the UK. From initial focus on generics, with reference pricing and discount agreements to the impact of AMNOG on the new chemical entities, every aspect of the pharmaceutical market has been affected.

Indeed, despite the market size, this new price point has resulted in companies deciding not to launch new products in the German market due to the problem this would create across Europe with reference pricing: get it wrong in Germany and a pharmaceutical company could end up with an unsustainable price point in many other countries.

The biggest test for pharmaceutical companies in Germany in the coming months will be to understand the challenges created by AMNOG and to determine how best to create the value dossiers. To date, only one product, Merckle Recordati´s Pitavastatin, has passed the examination of the G-BA, but without the approval of a pre-price, there’s only the allocation of a reference price – so the industry has no real evidence of how this process works, or how successful companies will be.

However, with 15 products currently under review, this model will become far clearer in coming months. Market access strategies must be supported by a new depth of information relating to this value-based decision making, most notably granular visibility of the key influencers within G-BA. Armed with this insight, pharmaceutical market access teams will be able to refine their information analysis and determine how best to disseminate the value message to the market.

 Dr Arnim Jost is General Manager, Germany, and VP REGION D-ACH, for Cegedim Relationship Management.


Tag cloud


<<  May 2018  >>

View posts in large calendar

Month List