Pharmaceutical Meetings & Political Intelligence
Washington, DC Sept. 20th, 2007 ---- The pharmaceutical industry is under the microscope as never before, especially in the way it promotes it's products, and how much this promotion costs. Compared to a few years ago the screws are really on, and doctor's can no longer bring their wife's, children and mistresses to weekend golf outings, and luxurious getaways at the expense of the little old ladies, the sick and the poor. For years patients have died, or suffered excruciating pain to pay for the extravagances of entertaining doctors and encouraging them to prescribe expensive drugs which the patient can probably do without.
There are still several hundred thousand meetings and dinners organized every year to encourage doctors and prescribing nurses to familiarize themselves with the features of the products, over Filet Mignon. This entertaining function has spawned a whole spectrum of small and medium companies to organize, plan and manage these dinners and training meetings. They are driven by a whole army of expensive pharmaceutical sales teams, thousands of "Drug Reps" descending on every doctors office across the country. It's big business, very lucrative, and completely oblivious of the looming dangers as predicted through Political Intelligence.
Many political observers give this sales and meeting model a life span of about 2 years, if a Democrat gets into the White House, or a few months more if it's a Republican, facing a strong Democratic Congress. The expense of having these thousands of expensive sales people calling on doctors pitching competing products does not make sense in a comprehensive health care system, especially with 79,000,000 Baby Boomers retiring, with all their aches and pains. Neither does entertaining doctors in expensive restaurants to listen to features of a product they could learn about in their offices.
I polled a good cross section of contacts across the medical meetings industry to determine how many had political intelligence input, tracking the decision makers in Washington, and across the 50 States. Turns out their focus is on meeting booking and management, and such future trend prediction is outside their interests. Most were trying to develop their businesses into a low cost call center to cater to the short term requirements of the pharmaceutical companies.
I believe the pharmaceutical industry is ready for Corporate Diplomacy and research into another less extravagant business model for the digital age. There has to be development in the interface with the healthcare network that will not get nailed under the new mood in Congress after 2008. Every voter has seen Drug Reps, arms piled high with freebies, gifts and trays of cold cuts to feed the usually obese office staff, and invitations to the best restaurants to listen to a sales pitch. They see the company cars parked in the car park. Then they see the cost of their pills and ask why they cost so much. The days of this luxury method of pitching pharma products are numbered,
Then there is those irritating television commercials. Lawsuits look like putting them out of business, as video testimony of misleading advertising, will sway Congress once they all begin to jump on the affordable medication bandwagon in 2009.