SOURCE: Cutting Edge Information

Cutting Edge Information

November 03, 2009 09:12 ET

Pharmaceutical Speaker Programs an Important Source of Medical Education, Says Cutting Edge Information

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwire - November 3, 2009) - Like many other marketing activities within the industry, pharmaceutical speaker programs -- and the physician-industry relationships that they consist of -- are under attack, most recently by the Boston Globe.

The Globe article discussed payment information released by Eli Lilly and questioned the ethics of doctors speaking on drugs for pharmaceutical companies. It accused speaker bureau participants of being simply marketing mouthpieces.

But not all research backs this conclusion. A new study released by Cutting Edge Information, "Pharmaceutical Speaker Programs: Measuring ROI and Communicating Value," shows that pharmaceutical companies are moving away from marketing and promotional talks and focusing more on education. A major catalyst for the switch to educational presentations is physicians who rely on industry education to stay current on treatment options. They are uninterested in listening to marketing talks -- and speakers are increasingly uninterested in delivering them.

"For many physicians, industry-sponsored talks offer the opportunity to learn the most recent and most extensive research from the organizations doing the trial work," said Jason Richardson, president of Cutting Edge Information. "In many areas, industry-sponsored learning events are the primary alternative to CME-accredited events, which are often less specific discussions or a general disease-state lecture."

The study also finds that in the shift away from promotional events, many speaker bureaus now include only those physicians who have developed clinical relationships with the company and have researched the drug. These physicians are also incorporated into the development of the presentation and review the slides with the company's medical personnel.

"Many of the companies we interviewed support these speeches' educational focus by staffing the events with medical personnel who are deeply familiar with the science," said Jordan Stone, the report's lead author. "These are not sales departments' recruits speaking. These are physicians with a research background, working with the medical side of pharmaceutical companies to maintain an educated medical community."

"Pharmaceutical Speaker Programs: Measuring ROI and Communicating Value" ( discusses strategies of leading life science companies to make their speaker programs more effective and to prove department value. It includes metrics on program costs, methods to improve speaker bureau management, and analysis of speaker program trends.

A complimentary brochure of the report is available at

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