Pharmaceutical Marketing Educates Doctors, Improves Care

At a recent hearing before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, PhRMA had the opportunity to express its views on the important role pharmaceutical marketing plays in helping physicians access timely information about medicines.  During the hearing, we highlighted the fact that educational activities by America’s pharmaceutical research companies can enhance the practice of medicine, which helps to reduce healthcare costs and improve the lives of patients suffering from disease.

Pharmaceutical marketing is one of several important ways for doctors to receive the information they need to make sure their treatment choices are the right ones for each individual patient.  In fact, reports have shown that pharmaceutical marketing and continuing medical education programs have drastically improved awareness of treatment options for Americans suffering from a variety of conditions, including diabetes, a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

Keeping in mind the benefits of pharmaceutical marketing and how it helps improve healthcare in America, it would be a mistake to not also recognize the tremendous work and effort that takes place every day behind the scenes in the search for new life-enhancing medicines.  This work, done by pharmaceutical scientists in labs across the U.S., is critical if we want to continue to build up the incredible arsenal of medicines that are currently in the pipeline.  Last year alone, PhRMA members invested an estimated $43 billion in discovering and developing new medicines that help patients win their battle against disease.

But in order for this battle to be a success, we believe healthcare providers should be armed with essential information about the medicines they prescribe.  Informing healthcare professionals of the benefits and risks specific to a new or existing medicine -- whether it be through responsible advertising or pharmaceutical sales representatives -- helps ensure patients are safely and effectively treated.

To help ensure the accuracy of information provided to healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical research companies must comply with strict Food and Drug Administration regulations.  PhRMA’s Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals also provides guidance on how sales personnel can and should maintain ethical relationships in their discussions with health care professionals.  The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services has spoken favorably of the Code as a measure that helps demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with the legal requirements that govern pharmaceutical marketing practices.

There is no doubt that medicines -- and greater awareness of new, cutting-edge medicines -- play a valuable role in helping drive down healthcare costs by helping keep patients out of the hospital.  Studies have shown that greater utilization of medicines helps patients avoid expensive hospital and emergency room visits.  A recent study by Medco found that if diabetes patients increased their treatment regimen by 20 percent, it would save them on average $1,074 by eliminating other more expensive medical costs.  Top employers in America today are also seeing significant reductions in their healthcare expenditures by taking steps that help keep employees out of the hospital through lifestyle improvements and greater utilization of life-enhancing medicines.

Clearly, raising awareness of treatment options benefits the entire healthcare system and most importantly, helps patients win their battle against disease.