--about how the firms that sell data to drug companies are getting smarter and smarter at tracking more and more data about patients so as to fine-tune what the industry knows about each individual physician's prescribing patterns. They manage to do this without (supposedly) stepping over the line to identify any patient by name.
I didn't see any real news flashes here about how the firms mine data; most of this more or less confirms what we've long known. I was a little bit more impressed with some side comments about why companies are finding it worthwhile to invest funds in these more detailed data-mining techniques. Here is Thomas's account:
"Companies are refining their pitches to doctors in part because it is getting harder to market to them. Studies show physicians are less willing to speak to sales representatives, either because they are opposed to such pitches, or because they are under pressure to see more patients. At the same time, the industry has laid off thousands of sales representatives in an effort to save money as once best-selling drugs have lost their patent protection.
“'The industry is now having a harder time getting direct access to physicians,' said Edward Rhoads, a managing partner and principal at the New England Consulting Group. As a result, he said, drug companies are asking, 'How can we get the information into the community in a different way?...'"
As I have reported both in HOOKED and later in this blog, the era 2006-2009 (roughly) saw something of a sea change in drug marketing. Before that, Pharma seemed to have its own way and all the complaints of pharmascolds like me and many others fell on deaf ears. Suddenly it seemed that all the mounting criticisms had taken hold and that the landscape was rapidly shifting. I have still not seen reliable studies in academic journals to document just what changed, how much, and how quickly; so anecdotal reports like this may be the best we have to go on for the present. (And what I hear from my medical students who go out into the community to spend time with practitioners seems to suggest that the beaming drug rep who rolls into the office bearing lunch for the entire staff is still a staple of medical practice.)