Pharma and Device Blog Watch
Pfizer Supply Deal Ups Pressure on UK Price Cuts (The IN VIVO Blog)
In February, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recommended switching from the traditional Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme system to one where drug prices are cut and capped according to the product’s perceived therapeutic benefit, Melanie Senior writes. A review of the direct-to-pharmacy (DTP) distribution arrangement initiated by Pfizer in March has only bolstered the OFT’s efforts.
As part of its agreement, Pfizer bypassed wholesalers and began selling its drugs directly to pharmacists, using UniChem as a logistics provider, according to the blog. “The OFT has concluded from its investigation that there is a ‘significant risk’ that DTP schemes will result in higher costs to the [National Health Service],” Senior writes.
The OFT suggested that the UK reduce list prices in the current pricing framework by an amount equal to the average pharmacy discount and force pharma firms to offer a minimum list price discount to pharmacies, according to the blog.
“As far as drug prices are concerned, whatever freedom there was will now certainly soon come to an end,” Senior writes.
Salespeople Becoming Less Effective (World of DTC Marketing)
New research by Leerink Swann & Co. shows that 75 percent of pharmaceutical sales rep calls don’t involve a face-to-face meeting with a doctor, in part due to a backlash against overly aggressive marketing of the past decade, Richard Meyer writes.
A doctor based in northern Virginia explained that most practices don’t want to see sales representatives because it’s too much of an interruption, according to the blog.
Pharma companies have started to cut their sales force as a result of dwindling sales. Pfizer cut its sales force by 20 percent, and AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb have reduced sales staff as well. Companies are beginning to focus on web-based visits between doctors and salespeople, during which sales reps give a presentation through an online video link or over the telephone, Meyer writes.
“Using tablet PCs, salespeople can present their information faster and direct the doctor to company web pages. The tablet PC is perfect for pharma salespeople, but alas, very few pharma salespeople have access to this technology, and when they do, it is not set up to optimize the physician’s time,” he says.