Merck Is the Best-Regarded Manufacturer Among Managed-Care Execs; Genentech Among Oncology KOLs

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2009

Surveys from SDI and Market Strategies International score companies on their promotional practices and business relationships

Two surveys, from two separate market-research companies, and using somewhat different criteria, have recently been issued publicly that look at two of the hottest areas in pharmaceutical marketing and promotion: oncology and managed care. The top guns: Merck among managed care organizations (MCOs); Genentech among oncology key opinion leaders (KOLs).

Every six months, SDI (Plymouth Meeting, PA) conducts an audit of how well-received manufacturers’ messages are among the pharmacy executives and medical directors at managed care organizations (MCOs). In the latest survey (fall 2008), Merck scored in the top three among both types of executives—the only company to do so. The No. 1 spot among pharmacy executives was Novartis (reclaiming a position it had lost to Merck last spring), and Merck and Schering Plough tied for second. Among medical directors, Merck was No. 1, followed by Sanofi-Aventis and GSK in third place.

Generally speaking, pharmacy executives at MCOs are concerned with the contractual business relationships with suppliers, and medical directors are concerned with clinical data and support for patient care. SDI (the company acquired Verispan, which has been conducting the survey for years, late last year) polls executives for:

  • manufacturers’ corporate approach
  • quality of account managers
  • disease management services
  • clinical information
  • contract terms
  • value-added services.

The volume of high mentions leads to the scoring.

“SDI’s combination of longitudinal patient data and relationships with influential MCO executives uniquely positions it to provide multidimensional answers to managed-care business questions,” says Nicholas Carras, a manager with the firm.

SDI accounts for Novartis’ claiming of the top spot among pharmacy executives through the company’s value-added services in patient support and quality educational materials, and from changes (not detailed) in its contracting practices. The Novartis hypertension drug Diovan was in a preferred formulary position among 80% of HMOs, says SDI.

KOL perceptions and criteria

Meanwhile, Market Strategies International (Livonia, MI) sought out 100 oncology KOLs (differentiated from all oncologists by their publications and conference participation) and solicited inputs based, broadly, on R&D, corporate and sales-representation quality. “We conducted our research specifically with KOLs because we believe their relationships and experiences with pharmaceutical companies differ from those of community-based physicians and our researchbore this out,” says the firm.

The KOL opinion analysis reveals six key reputation drivers:

  • The company develops beneficial products for my practice and my patients
  • The company demonstrates significant strength in the field of oncology
  • The company has an innovative R&D pipeline in oncology
  • It’s a company that I can trust
  • Sales representatives respect my time
  • Sales representatives are knowledgeable about the products they sell.

The far-and-away leader across all three groupings (R&D, corporate and sales) was Genentech. Novartis was No. 2 across all three criteria, and Amgen third in all but sales, which was held by Eli Lilly. Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis, together with the No. 2 firms, comprise a second tier of manufacturers, and others with oncology products are in a third tier.

Market Strategies says that in a specialty area like oncology, manufacturers are in a “battle for a share of clinical investigators and patients for clinical trials,” and “the need to positively build your customer experience touch points with KOLs is critical.” The study is available for purchase. PC

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