Opening Up About New Drug Formulations

Recently I had the privilege of creating sales rep training content for a product that’s just about to launch. This new formulation of an old drug has the potential to be very helpful to patients young and old due to its advantages of dosing and convenience.

The reps who were hired to communicate with doctors about this new product were actual vacuum cleaner salespeople up until this year. They’re about to step into the daunting world of healthcare and talk to medical professionals about why they should consider this product for their patients. I raise my glass to them. Hopefully I’ve provided them with all the information they’ll require to understand the existing patient need and explain the solution provided by this product.

Little differences in a drug’s formulation, which is what these reps will be discussing, may seem like a small thing to many people. In fact, sometimes these new products are demonized by the media as frivolous wastes of healthcare investment. What good, they ask, is a new pill that lasts a few hours longer when people are dying of terrible diseases? Isn’t that where pharma profits should be directed?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were more voices in the media supplying examples of patients and families who greatly benefited when a grandmother’s reduced pill burden helped to prevent missed doses? Or when a liquid formulation helped a child who had trouble swallowing pills? Or when a formulation with more stable kinetics prevented the loss of a transplanted organ? Wouldn’t many people respond to a message like this in a positive way? The public may begin to have a better understanding of the challenges and decision-making processes within the pharmaceutical industry if such matters are communicated appropriately and effectively.

I’m not sure if or when the mass media will allow our industry the bandwidth to discuss the importance of new formulations in a nation where every healthcare dollar is so closely scrutinized and pharmaceutical companies are so deeply mistrusted. But as medical communicators, we have an opportunity to help both doctors and patients understand what our clients are doing to improve people’s lives in small but valuable ways, as well as in large and obvious ways. For certain patients, the value of a new form of an old drug can be immeasurable. Even more than a new vacuum cleaner.

 

 

SCOTT SALSMAN

 Associate Scientific Director, Scientific and Medical Strategy
Details guy. Soccer dad. Rock 'n' roller.