Joshua Lapsker, Chairman, MediSolutions
The newest addition to the PM360 Trailblazer Awards is the Vanguard Award. This award was established to recognize an industry pioneer who developed a new service, strategy, product, or technology that greatly impacted the industry. The inaugural recipient is Joshua Lapsker, Chairman, MediSolutions who has been innovating since he was 12 years old in his native Israel, where he would swim in the bay and collect logs that fell off cargo boats—which he sold to willing customers.
But Joshua is not being awarded for his entrepreneurship as a 12-year-old. No, we are honoring him for what he did 35 years ago—invent the concept of advertising inside the prescription pad. PM360 spoke with the first-ever Vanguard Winner about the inspiration behind his invention, its growth over the years, and the company’s latest innovation.
PM360: When did you first come up with the idea to position relevant brand messaging inside the physicians’ prescription pad?
Joshua Lapsker: In 1976, I was working in Montreal, Quebec with several Canadian pharmaceutical companies, particularly helping them with promotional programs for their product launches. The Head of Marketing and Sales at Burroughs Wellcome (now GSK) believed that advertising in all 50+ journals created considerable waste and diminishing returns. He asked me for a program that would get a valuable exposure with each ad. It took me a month to develop, and I came back to him with my plan to give his targeted prescribers free prescription pads with interleaved advertising. He laughed at me.
Then, I showed him my research that every one of the 100 prescribers that we offered the program to wanted it—and wanted it immediately. Seeing that data, he signed up for the program and within one year we had sizeable circulations in several specialties. Additionally, we had a near sellout of the available advertising space as our pharmaceutical clients loved the waste-free promotion. The first pads were 100 personalized prescription blanks with an inside cover ad and a product ad after every fifth blank. Thus, Medi-Promotions was born with MediScripts as its first powerful advertising medium.
Can you talk about the various different ways you have innovated within the prescription pad over the years since founding MediScripts?
In 1981, we launched MediScripts in the U.S. Some of the innovations we launched included: A two-pad format with single-sponsor and multi-sponsor pads insuring spikes in awareness as well as consistent exposures throughout the year. Personalized ads with the name of the specific targeted prescribers printed on the ad. Launch boxes with personalized MediScripts pads including the launch product’s ad, sample request forms, and product awareness brochures to be delivered on a specific date to all targeted prescribers. And STARTERx was a program that combined personalized pre-printed prescriptions with drug samples allowing doctors to hand out a starter dose of medication for immediate use with a prescription for more medication once the sample was finished. This program allowed our clients to control sample distribution per patient while insuring that an associated prescription was written for their product.
What kind of results did clients see while using these various innovations?
We are very proud that MediScripts and our other innovations always had the desired impact on prescribers, i.e., they wrote more of the advertised product. While some of our properties had a decent 5:1 ROI, our prescription pad service consistently produced double digit ROI on over 70 third-party studies mostly performed by Wolters Kluwer.
How prevalent is the use of MediScripts pads today?
Thanks to some state legislation, the PhRMA code, and electronic prescribing, we have seen a steady decline in MediScripts usage since 2005. But we are still used on a consistent basis by a vast number of prescribers. With the PhRMA code requiring us to charge a fair market value for our service, our advertisers are guaranteed usage by the remaining paying prescribers.
The latest innovation to come out of MediSolutions is MediVRx. How does this product work?
Customer needs have always been a key focus at MediSolutions. Our customers have been pharma, patients, and physicians from our very beginning to now. We saw a real gap in medical education with low ability to retain information for both patients and physicians and an ever-increasing complexity for pharma to explain how its products can help. This is when we discovered virtual reality may be the bridge to deliver on our core values and customer needs and help us evolve to our next phase of growth.
MediVRx combines the power of immersive, focused education, in a way that has shown 80% retention of information versus 20% from traditional means. This strong ability to inform users in a compelling way, we believe, will move the needle finally on education in the medical world for patients and physicians alike. Moreover, using this approach we have had early traction with medical science teams to help explain complex disease states and treatment regimens. In fact, our technology will be highlighted this November at the American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in Chicago.