Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Drug Marketers Shift Focus to Cost Issues

Academic journal article Public Relations Journal

Drug Marketers Shift Focus to Cost Issues

Article excerpt

It's not enough anymore for drug makers to prove to the world that a drug works and is safe. Under intense pressure to contain costs, drug manufacturers today must also prove that a drug is cost-effective.

This new trend is called "pharmaco-economics," a term used to describe the relatively new discipline that combines pharmacology and economics. Pharmaco-economics is bringing a new measurement criterion to the forefront of pharmaceutical marketing: cost benefit or comparative efficacy. As a result, public relations professionals will be called upon to develop communication campaigns designed to convince insurance companies and health care organizations that a particular drug or cure is worth the cost.

"I see comparative efficacy becoming more important, especially in an environment where the provider wants to pay as little as possible to treat an illness," said Peter Rheinstein, M.D., director, medicine staff, Office of Health Affairs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"If a company can prove that the cost of administration of its product offsets a higher price because it is cheaper for a pharmacist to reconstitute, or less expensive for a hospital to monitor, all these factors could play a role in determining if a provider would want to use the drug," Dr. Rheinstein added.

Pharmaco-economics' arrival as the industry's new buzzword was confirmed on Jan. 18 when The New York Times ran a front-page article headlined, "New Standard for Drug Makers: Proving the Cure Is Worth the Cost."

The study of pharmaco-economics has been percolating in the background in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 10 years, according to Christopher A. Rodowskas, Ph.D., editor of the trade publication, Pharmacy Business. "All the major pharmaceutical companies have or are trying to organize pharmaco-economic groups," said Rodowskas.

The Times article focused on a biotechnology drug for treating a bacterial infection called sepsis that will soon be submitted for FDA approval. Because the drug's price is likely to be high, its maker, Synergen Corp., conducted a pharmaco-economic study to prove that its safety, efficacy and efficiency are worth the cost. "You have to convince people that you are delivering economic value, and that goes for life-saving therapies," Jon S. Saxe, president and chief executive of Synergen Corp. …

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