The Pharma Marketing Show Europe 2012: event overview

Rebecca Aris


As pharmaphorum’s ‘marketing excellence’ themed month commences, Rebecca Aris provides an overview of the ‘Pharma Marketing Show Europe 2012’ event.

The recent ‘Pharma Marketing Show Europe 2012’ event, held by health network communication in London was aimed at marketing, sales and communications executives in the pharmaceutical industry. This article provides an overview of some of the marketing strategies discussed on day one of the event.

The current landscape in pharma

Our industry is evolving, we have moved on from the days of the era of blockbuster drugs, through the era of diversified drugs portfolios and are entering pharma 3.0. With this comes a refreshing focus on healthy outcomes1.

As the industry evolves so too must marketing strategies in order to stay ahead of the game. Let’s look at some of the current marketing trends and what they might mean for the successful marketing strategies of tomorrow.

Decline in HCP access

Murat Tanoren, Marketing Manager, CVM at Boehringer Ingelheim, highlighted the decline in access to HCPs from the perspective of a sales rep. As HCPs increasingly become less interested in being promoted to, available access to them declines. He illustrated this with figures from Turkey where there are:-

• 20 calls per physician in one day.

• 13 calls per rep in one day.

o Average duration of call ~ 2 mins

Do these figures suggest the end of detailing? The rising availability of alternative data, increasing regulations surrounding promotional activities of medicinal products, in addition to the decrease in the availability of HCPs would suggest so. Especially when you consider recent data from IMS, which suggests that ‘only 27% of doctors consider leading pharmaceutical companies to be a reliable source of information’.


“Do these figures suggest the end of detailing?”


The rise of digital

And whilst detailing appears to be in decline, digital is on the rise. Patients and caregivers are increasingly turning to social media to share or consume information. The level of social media activity (i.e. consumers either creating or consuming content on health blogs, message boards, chat rooms etc) has been shown to be dependent on the health condition. Data from Manhattan research shows that the level of social media activity is highest in areas such as ADHD, acne and flu. The disease areas that there are least social media activity about are hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Of those online, it has been shown to be the caregiver that is the most active in social media – individuals that are certainly worth listening to.


“Data from Manhattan research shows that the level of social media activity is highest in areas such as ADHD, acne and flu.”


How to differentiate your product in a crowded environment

The topic then turned to product differentiation. Steve Wright, Marketing Manager – Oncology at Boehringer Ingelheim, offered up some thoughts on differentiating your product in a crowded environment, with the following advice:-

• Differentiate your product by determining the unique selling point of your product.

• If the ‘difference’ isn’t substantial enough in the eyes of your customers, can you create the need for what you are offering?

• Don’t forget that the product includes the delivery device, if the delivery is different enough it can make huge swings in prescribing.

• If a competitor is likely to differentiate against you, do what you can to counteract that.

• When everything else is the same – find the things that make it different!

Steve highlighted how patients often don’t know they need a product until it’s available –they simply haven’t considered it to be an option. Steve illustrated his point by looking at the differences between Remicade and Humira, both of which can be used to treat some of the same conditions. Remicade, however, is delivered by infusion in hospital, whereas Humira is delivered by injection in the home. The two drugs are similar, but by offering a lifestyle advantage that wasn’t previously considered by patients, Humira offers a clear differentiator.


“When everything else is the same – find the things that make it different!”


Building a sustainable global patient advocacy program

Cheya Pope, Senior Director of Patient Advocacy, Global Oncology Division at Sanofi, demonstrated the importance of building a sustainable global patient advocacy program with the example of Herceptin.

In 1955, Genentech’s Phase II trial of Herceptin demonstrated improved outcome for HER2+ breast cancer patients. As a result, breast cancer advocates began seeking access to the treatment. Genentech policy did not allow any expanded access for “last resort” treatment.

Meanwhile, cancer patient Marti Nelson was unable to obtain Herceptin despite testing positive for HER2+. She died at the age of 40. In response to her death, patient advocates staged a mock funeral on Genentech’s campus, provoking Genentech to initiate discussions with breast cancer advocates.

Having explained the difficulty in the development of the drug to the patient advocates, they began to help to come up with solutions to the problems that Genentech was facing.

Involving advocates in policy decisions ultimately resulted in speeding up a clinical trial that was facing recruitment difficulty at the time, ultimately leading to FDA approval.

When criticism from the media ensued around selection criteria for the drug, the patient advocates were quick to defend the decisions.

Advocates continue to be invested in Herceptin, 14 years after its U.S. approval.

This story illustrates the power and benefits of having an open, honest relationship with patient advocates.

The benefits of working with patient advocates are clear, but it’s important for pharma to remember what they can offer patient advocates:

• Financial support and fundraising assistance, however, it’s not just about money!

• Access to company information and corporate decision makers.

• Corporate volunteers.

• Cutting-edge scientific information.

• Networking opportunities.

• Technical information and support.

• Willingness to listen to advocates.


The key messages from the day were focused on the evolving pharmaceutical marketing trends, from a decline in detailing, an incline in digital and a larger emphasis on product differentiation.

The value of patient advocates – as ambassadors, collaborators, educators and peacemakers – was also clearly demonstrated.

A key message that resonated throughout the day was the idea of working together within the company. Cross-functional launch teams and integrating all the players and their perspectives from an early stage is key to product success. On that note, a closing quote from Lloyd Dobens:-

“It is not a question of how well each process works, the question is how well they all work together.”

Lloyd Dobens


1. The world of Pharma 3.0, Ernst &amp, Young:–Pharma-3.0



About the author:

Rebecca Aris is Managing Editor of pharmaphorum, the primary facilitator of thought leadership and innovation for the pharmaceutical industry featuring news, articles, events / company listings and online discussion.

Rebecca was the first full time employee to join pharmaphorum, starting in her current role in mid-2010, and is responsible for coordinating all editorial content on the site. Prior to working at pharmaphorum she was a medical writer at a healthcare PR agency. In addition, she spent three years working as a commissioning editor on three journal titles at a biomedical publishing company. Rebecca holds a BSc (Hons) in pharmaceutical science.

For queries she can be reached through the site contact form or via Twitter @Rebecca_Aris.

What successful marketing strategies do you consider the most important?