This appears in the January 2010 edition:<br />Gil BasheEVP, Health Practice DirectorMakovsky + Companygbashe@makovsky.com<br />Convergence of the “watch-your-wallet” and “show-me” gatekeepers point the way to the essential 2010 product launch strategy—demonstrate clinical value before, during, and after launch. Emphasizing scientific innovation and ongoing clinical trial effort must be center stage in the new marketing communications environment. In a world of “What am I paying for?” science returns to the forefront as the cornerstone for successful brand positioning and extensions. Communication tools evolve (for instance, digital); however, in a spendthrift healthcare reform environment, marketers need to ramp up their efforts around amplifying innovation. <br />The House bill includes a Wal-Mart-esque proposal for generics’ "
eliminating co-pay costs the first time a patient switches from brand to generic. Who doesn’t like free? Marketers need to focus on physicians making prescribing decisions by communicating a strong clinical rationale for the brand. Physicians and PBM medical directors will advocate for brands showing clear clinical differences and addressing their patient needs. <br />The ’90s gave consumers greater voice in health product decision making and DTC became the mascot of mega-brands. Today government agencies and pharmacy benefit managers hold product selection sway. The combination of code-bundling averaging reimbursement between brands and generics—already comprising 70% of medicines dispensed—cemented change in the branded marketing landscape. Not showing scientific difference is to fall into the trap set by legislatively mandated comparative effectiveness measures.<br />Communications is about creating dialogue. Healthcare audiences are speaking with one another. Physicians will take prescribing cues from traditional and new decision makers—third-party guidelines, reimbursement agency recommendations, public comment (for example, analysts, investigators, and media) and company promotion. To neglect audiences influencing the national healthcare wallet is tantamount to opening a door to bad press, poor formulary position, and unenthusiastic health professionals and possible thumbs-down on the brand.<br />