Pharma’s future lies beyond the pill


Key account managers can be a valuable asset to help pharma move towards more collaborative ways of working and deliver added value to payers, patients and carers. KAM 3.0 must be the way forward for pharma 3.0.

As discussed in the last article, examining the future of pharma, pharma reps who take a 'hard sell' approach when visiting doctors aren't delivering value and risk the doors of physicians – both mental and physical – being closed on them for good.

Pharma's commercial mentality, old fashioned concepts and evident inability to change mean intangible assets are hardly discernible. There are no real brands, despite the drug names being called 'brands', no value added to doctors and little value communicated to patients. This situation, along with regular reports of misbehaviour, only reinforces the poor reputation of the industry.

In the Indian drug market alone there are currently 1,560 different Azithromycins. So what could the differentiator be? What would make a doctor prefer one producer over another and what would grant access to reimbursement and other lists? As long as pharma thinks it is all about price, the inevitable consequence is that the number of producers will reduce.

Key Account Management 3.0

Key Account Management (KAM) 3.0 offers a contrasting business model. It is about pharma actively contributing to healthcare, highlighting the prevailing and persisting problems and working with payers, carers and patients to create solutions. Any jointly-developed offering, reaching out beyond the pill, is likely to benefit payers, carers and patients.

For example, patient adherence is, in general, below 50 per cent. In such situations drugs can only fail to deliver what they promise. The costly disaster is reinforced by the knowledge that only 7 per cent of Asthma patients use their inhaling devices properly. In both cases the effect of drugs must be close to 'placebo forte'.

Who should take charge of drug adherence and the proper training of device users?

• Physicians and nurses probably don't have the time, the means and incentives

• Payers are too far removed from the patients to assist

• Patients themselves appear unable to cope with the problem they cause

• Pharmacists are absent from the 'game', as pharma still separates Rx- from OTC-business.

The task of resolving such therapeutic problems clearly lies with the pharmaceutical industry, although the driver behind it must not be revenue! The incentive to get actively involved in the delivery of care must be the value added to payers, carers, and patients. The concepts of improving drug administration and adherence are only two examples. There are hundreds of differentiators waiting in the market to be spotted. And those novel offerings need to be created cooperatively, in a joint effort between pharma, payers, carers and patients: "Involve me and I will understand!"

"In KAM 3.0, it is the key account managers who are central, detecting the problem(s) that exist in their accounts"

In KAM 3.0, it is the key account managers who are central, detecting the problem(s) that exist in their accounts, hampering the intended patient outcome.

If a problem is related to a core competency of their pharma or med-tech company, they can start a project to jointly create an offering to help improve patient outcomes and overcome the issue.

Inside their companies, KAMs can ensure cross-functional collaboration and manage the KAM team. They know all the relevant people, being part of the decision-making unit inside the respective key account.

There are plenty more benefits, but just these examples indicate that the future will be different.

However, that future will hold three different species of pharmaceutical enterprise:

1. Those who watch things happen

2. Those who wonder what happened

3. Those who make things happen.

The last of these will ensure the positive development of trust and improved reputation, adopt a new business model, and be able to implement necessary changes in structures, processes and mind-sets.

KAM 3.0 is one of the pathways to a prosperous and differentiated future.

About the author:

Hanno Wolfram is the founder and owner of, a Germany-based firm offering consultancy for pharmaceutical companies. He is the author of the book KAM in Pharma 3.0, which is published this month.

Have your say: Is pharma making the most of its KAMs?

Read Hanno Wolfram's previous article:

Where pharma's future lies


5 January, 2015