Leading Innovation During Times of Rapid Change

Welcome to 2017—a new year, and a new administration in Washington. What does it all mean for pharma marketers?

Many were surprised by November’s election results. As I write, White House Cabinet members and other staffers are being named, policy positions are being discussed, and many things are uncertain. Even fairly definitive positions, such as the promised repeal of the ACA, still present a lot of questions regarding the details.

Yet, the 21st Century Cures Act has just been passed. It calls for a variety of new guidances and changes in policy. Drug and device research and promotion are likely to change significantly. But again, the details are unclear on exactly what the final changes will look like.

The Challenge of Uncertainty

Uncertainty and change are uncomfortable and challenging. It’s not an easy time to predict what’s going to happen, and it’s not easy to live with that inability. Which is exactly why it’s so important not to stay still—to double down on delivering innovative solutions for patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and payers, which demonstrates our value.

The first 100 days of any administration, as U.S. News (http://bit.ly/2hI7Tf9) says, “…has been used by the public, the media, and scholars as a gauge of presidential success and activism since Franklin D. Roosevelt pioneered the 100-day concept when he took office in 1933.”

Will pharma be in the spotlight during those 100 days (http://bit.ly/2gnvUE4)? Probably. It’s likely that the ACA will be involved, the 21st Century Cures Act will begin to play out, and importation legislation may also be broached. One thing is clear: Pricing pressures will not go away. In fact, they’ll strengthen and increase—and our industry is unlikely to be lionized in the process.

While the details and the schedules remain fuzzy, it’s clear that we can expect a lot of change in the months and years ahead. But change is not new, and we have dealt with uncertainty before. Just remember the months after 9/11, the global financial crisis of 2008, or when the ACA was passed in 2010. We’ll face change again.

But change is often the flint that sparks innovation. And, whatever the situation, in the 17 years I’ve led Intouch, one thing has remained true in our industry: If we remain dedicated to helping patients and professionals connect to healthcare answers in the most thoughtful and innovative ways we can, we’ll be okay.

Adaptation is necessary for survival. This isn’t the time for quietly doing the minimum. We must remain dedicated and demonstrate our worth to patients and HCPs. As an industry, we must provide value beyond safe and effective products. We have profoundly powerful science and technology at our command to help patients and HCPs. We must provide novel therapies. We must provide true, meaningful customer service. We must push for new and different ways of doing business.

The pharmaceutical industry has faced uncertainty since its inception. What is science, after all, other than the ability to carve knowledge from uncertainty?

Perhaps the months and years ahead will be very different than what we’re accustomed to, or the industry won’t see as much change as some expect. But either way, focused action for the benefit of patients and practitioners is what will, as always, help us succeed in our goals and make a difference.

  • Faruk Capan

    Faruk Capan is CEO at Intouch Solutions. Faruk heads a 17-year-old pharmaceutical marketing agency known for its clients-first approach to service. Intouch has 650+ employees in offices in Kansas City, New York, Chicago, and London.


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