Evidence that Relationship Marketing Still Matters in Oncology Pharmaceutical Sales
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Genentech Ranks Highest in Physician Satisfaction with Biopharmaceutical Manufacturers
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 25 April 2013 — Although the role of pharmaceutical sales representatives has changed in recent years, physicians continue to perceive the sales representative as the leading influence on their relationship with biopharmaceutical companies, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Physician Manufacturer Experience Study—OncologySMreleased today.
- Overall physician satisfaction with biopharmaceutical companies for oncology averages 761 on a 1,000-point scale.
- Physicians indicate that 71 percent, on average, of their interaction with sales representatives focuses on treatments and products, as opposed to conversations about family, sports or other non-business-related topics.
- A key point of differentiation among the highest-ranked manufacturers is their perceived commitment to addressing patient needs and working well within the medical community. Together, these factors account for roughly one-third of the overall physician experience, nearly as much as the importance weight of the perceptions of the sales reps.
The first in a series of studies on physician satisfaction with biopharmaceutical manufacturers, this study examines oncologist and hematologist satisfaction based on the following factors: sales representative interactions; contributions to advancing medical care; medical marketing practices; patient education programs and materials; and service process.
Face-to-face detailing and diminished sponsored events are not the only changes in the world of pharmaceutical sales. Physicians are no longer gatekeepers in the same way they once were—more often working now as salaried employees within large delivery systems—and payers have greater influence on what medicines and services can be prescribed. Manufacturers have responded by developing more programs and solutions for patient assistance and medical staff education, yet these are often still set up through physicians.
Despite the shift toward other kinds of marketing activities, the relationship with sales representatives is still what most influences physician satisfaction. Physicians want the sales rep to anticipate their needs and offer proactive solutions to clinical questions and needs. Sales representative interactions is the most influential factor driving overall physician satisfaction with drug companies, slightly more impactful than contributions to advancing medical care.
"Even though there is a lot of questioning about the traditional sales detail approach, the sales rep continues to be a very influential broker of information and resources," said Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Physicians value having a personalized service relationship that goes beyond the bonds that can be created working through other marketing channels."
Millard also commented that the 2008 PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals has fundamentally transformed how biopharmaceutical companies develop and sustain customer relationships with physicians.
"Despite the restrictions on the types of encounters that may occur, physicians continue to value sales reps and to rely on them," said Millard. "In many ways, the regulations have helped strengthen the impact of sales reps because it has made it a more explicitly professional relationship."
The study finds that the PhRMA Code doesn't mean physicians and sales reps spend all of their time strictly talking business; they still spend about one-fourth of their time building their relationship and talking about non-prescription-related topics, such as family and sports.
While there are consistently high satisfaction scores in the sales representative interactions factor across companies, satisfaction with how companies contribute to medical care varies. A company that physicians value for scientific contributions may not necessarily be a service leader as well.
Some companies are distinguished by their products and innovation, while others differentiate themselves through the service component. Advancing medical care involves more than scientific evaluations of efficacy or effectiveness: it considers the relevance of products for cancer care and whether they meet an important need. One way that manufacturers advance medical care is by working effectively within the professional community of physicians.
Participation in clinical trials is another way to strengthen bonds between physicians and manufacturers.
"Physicians want to be part of advancing medicine and developing new products, and they're more satisfied when manufacturers enable them to participate in that process," said Millard.
Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Satisfaction
Genentech, Inc.1 ranks highest in physician satisfaction with biopharmaceutical companies in the therapeutic category of oncology with an index score of 773 on a 1,000-point scale. Genentech performs particularly well in the contributions to advancing medical care and medical marketing practices factors. Genentech is followed in the rankings by Novartis (769) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (764).
Overall physician satisfaction with biopharmaceutical companies averages 761.
The 2013 Physician Manufacturer Experience Study—Oncology is based on responses from 450 oncologists and hematologists, who each evaluated up to five manufacturers, collected between March and April 2013.
1Genentech, Inc., is a member of the Roche Group
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