Delivering samples in bags and boxes improves overall campaign effectiveness, says Brandperx

'Scriptbags' and 'Rep in a Box' are about to be tested in pharma sample distribution

In an era where e-prescribing, e-detailing and e- just about everything else is the buzz, Jeff Garshon, VP sales at Brandperx (New Albany, OH), says “We’re a little retro, but we offer proven performance.” Over the past three years, the company has developed a sample distribution system designed to elevate usefulness for patients while fitting neatly into the workflow and sample-closet practices of typical doctors’ offices. To date, some 20 million Scriptbags, Brandperx’ brand of sample bag, have been delivered to doctors’ offices, containing OTC products (which might also be complementary to ethical products being prescribed) and nutritional supplements. Starting now, the company is piloting distribution programs involving prescription products.

Garshon explains that a common problem in distributing samples is that the sample is often separated from necessary collateral material or medication guides, or manufacturer’s coupons or copay cards that are most effective when the patient receives the two together. A Scriptbag is an overprinted bag (which can also contain a heat-sealed pouch to hold the OTC sample), into which the doctor can add, for example, a prescription or coupon. The Rep in a Box platform is a cardboard container, meant to sit in the sample closet, with slots or shelves for collateral material. In both cases, keeping the sample with the collateral is handled by the packaging, not by the doctor. (Prescription products, however, will require the doctor first to receive and sign for the sample from a rep or pharma company, and then place it in the pre-selected bag.)

Brandperx has set up a cooperative agreement with over 120,000 doctors’ offices, entailing an exclusive agreement to use the Scriptbags or Rep in a Box. The company has its own sales force that markets the service to doctors’ offices; it is also able to tailor product campaigns to the appropriate doctor (skincare product to dermatologists, for example; although family practices might receive multiple different campaign materials). Brandperx is compatible with alternative sampling methods; in some cases, fulfilling an online order might involve shipping out a Rep in a Box. Campaigns usually run for a month minimum.

“It might seem to be a trivial thing, but our close relationships with doctors’ offices tells us that managing the inventory of dozens of products in a sample closet, together with all the documents or coupons that go with them, is a hardship for many offices,” says Garshon. “The convenience of these delivery systems addresses those problems, and provides a real benefit to the patient.”

Another retro aspect of Brandperx’ expansion is delivering customized healthcare magazines, containing repurposed content on health issues such as diabetes or heart disease. “We’ve found that many pharma companies have defined budgets for print, television or online, but don’t have one for a sample delivery enhancement like Scriptbag,” says Garshon. “So we sometimes wind up combining the service with the print magazine, for which there is a budget.” The first issues will be coming out later this year.