09 Nov It’s Time for a Revolution with Med Rep 4.0
Replacing Medical Reps with 2 New Categories of Field Executives
Today the Pharmaceutical Industry is ranked 4th highest grossing industry worldwide, trailing behind Retail & Food, Alcohol and Oil. In the year 2016, the worldwide revenue of the Pharma market was $1.072 Trillion and is expected to reach $1.12 Trillion by 2022.
Now even thought these figures look impressive, they could have been way higher if the Pharma industry wasn't facing a sharp slowdown, if the past records are taken into consideration.
In 2001, the worldwide revenue was around $0.39 Trillion, 0.963 Trillion in 2010 and in 2014 it had just crossed 1 Trillion.
According to various sources, the pharmaceutical industry is likely to witness further deceleration in growth over the next three to five years because of :
- pricing pressure (price erosion due to increased competition)
- regulatory interventions (price regulation and compliance issues with the FDA)
- moderate proportion of large-size branded drugs going off patent
- economic recession
- new policies (governments of various countries are increasingly favouring prescription of generics than brands, fixed-dose combinations are being banned etc)
Moreover, Pharma are facing a different and bigger problem – its inability to relatively convert promotion into sales.
Since the past 150 years (approximately), the Pharma Industry is promoting new and old drugs in form of easy to administer formulations with the help of sales executives whom they call the Drug Reps, Medical Reps or MRs. Over the years Medical Representatives have evolved in response to market situation.
Till a couple of decades ago, the MRs were greeted by HCPs (Healthcare Professionals) with open minds and with the intention of learning more about recent trends in medical diagnostic and treatment. All was well until the internet made an appearance. Today, for the HCPs, information to new therapy and drugs is easily available and accessible, thanks to the Internet.
Adding to chaos, multiple brands with the same generic have overpopulated the market, making it very difficult for the companies to differentiate its brand from the others. MRs visiting the doctor detail the same generics with different brand names, with hardly any valid differentiation. In pressure to keep their visits short for the convenience of the HPCs, most MRs usually skip most vital details of the brand strategy. HPCs have started to lose value in these visits as they know that the representatives will not add to their knowledge but only push them to buy or prescribe.
Counteracting this situation, Pharma companies offer gifts, trips to various destinations and CMEs to the Physicians to add value to the MR’s visit and gain acceptance. The role of the Medical Representative today has now become more of a concierge attending to personal ‘needs’ of the HCPs rather than acting as an ‘informant’ delivering information and samples of the products.
One of my article in the past advices to replace Medical Representatives with a new Marketing Model. Many readers mistook this move as replacing MRs, a human, with some form of digital media. I would like to disclose some information about this strategy below.
My agency proposes replacing the MRs (old generation executives) with personnel whom we refer to as the Agents. The Agents are selected from high performing MRs and can perform better using special assistive equipment (run by AI-based software) and alternative media. Think of them as high performance medical reps on steroids. Two types of Agents will be in application –
- Clinical Agent who’s primary goal is promote the brands to HCPs and
- Non-Clinical Agents who’s aim is to create awareness of the brands to the patients and their community.
Clinical Agents cut down frequency of visit and compensate this with increased session time and detailing quality, after consulting the HCPs. Using special gear these Agents are able to judge brand & market performance and get intelligent assistance such as recall previous detailed brands, brands to be promoted, competitor attack, brand defence & counter attack etc, before they enter the meeting room. Brands can be pre-programmed for each HCP as per schedule, to allow seamless presentation. Based on the generic, the Agent can also auto-extract latest and relevant news from the internet without having to manually research all sources.
I can’t really talk more about Non-Clinical Agents and the alternative media. To my knowledge they are the first in the market.
A group of Agents is groomed by a ‘Coach’ who trains and tests the skills of the Agents at intervals. The coach also tests the physical and mental stress levels of the Agents to ensure preventive measures in time. The Agents compete in the field like athletes and their mental & physical conditioning as well as physical appearance are worked upon.
Upgrading Medical Representatives to Agents gives Pharmaceutical Companies 3 advantages over their competitors because
- A high performing executive with proven sales record connects with higher number of HCPs
- Agents are capable of representing the brand much better than the ordinary Med Rep
- Non-Clinical Agents creates a larger reaching area and takes brand awareness to patients
The collective strategy has a much better acceptance at HCPs and Patients level with high conversion probability.
If you are interested in knowing more, drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to provide your professional details such as name, company, designation and country.