Novartis, Pfizer and Merck Take the Lead on Strong Relationships with Physicians, as Doctors Demand an Expanding Set Of Services

NEW YORK,  June 17, 2008— Among US primary care physicians, Novartis earns the highest sales rep relationship scores, followed by Pfizer, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis, according to new research from TNS Healthcare. Novartis also takes the top spot in Europe, demonstrating a consistent ability to build strong physician relationships. Though Pfizer also shows strong overall rep relationship scores, it has greater variability in Europe, while Merck’s European performance lags behind its US results.

Though quality interactions with reps remain vitally important to doctors, TNS Healthcare’s research reveals they are no longer enough to provide a market advantage. In fact, all 15 companies evaluated in the TNS survey score relatively highly on rep-related attributes, including personal and professional conduct, knowledge and expertise and sales visit quality and value. It is their performance across the full range of other service experiences that set the winners apart.

For example, Novartis earns the highest marks from doctors on virtually every sales and service activity, including patient and physician education, practice and staff support, brand experience and corporate reputation. Pfizer also does well across the full range of sales and service activities, tying with or scoring second to Novartis in most areas. For both Novartis and Pfizer, Internet services are relative "weak spots." Rounding out the top three, Merck earns the highest scores of all the companies for Internet services and also rates highly across the full spectrum of other sales and service activities.

"A key takeaway for pharmaceutical companies is that, to build the strongest physician relationships, they must be able to connect with doctors through a host of activities beyond just traditional message delivery. To stand out favorably from competitors, they must bring a range of value-add brand services into the detail," says Andrew Brana, TNS Healthcare’s Global Consultant for Sales Force Optimization. "To succeed, companies have to look beyond just whom to target and also focus on how to engage the customer—what mix of value-add services they must deliver to forge the most powerful bonds with physicians.

"The companies earning the highest relationship scores are those delivering the best total experience—including CME, patient programs, staff support and Internet services, as well as quality details. Even the top performers, however, have some weak spots. Those weaknesses are, in fact, opportunities to improve performance by meeting important physician needs—driving both stronger relationships and better results."

Rep Interactions and Educational Services Are Valued across the Board

While rep interactions are important to physicians in all countries—and remain most important in the US—other experiences are now also critical to doctors. For example, in the US, two-thirds of physicians give high importance to both doctor and patient education programs. In the UK, three-quarters of doctors surveyed place high value on physician education—and almost 60% say patient management and education are of key importance.

"Although in all the countries we surveyed, including the US and the five major European markets, physician education is very highly valued, no company is doing particularly well in this area," says Brana. "Even the companies with the best scores have significant room for improvement. As a result, physician education represents a powerful chance for companies to differentiate themselves and strengthen their physician relationships."

While doctors see physician and patient educational services as critically important, they are still not placing high value on the Internet as a way to deliver that information. In the US, slightly more than 40% of doctors see the Internet as valuable. Though this represents an increase since 2007, it still places the Internet near the bottom of the attribute list in terms of importance. With the exception of Spain and Italy, many European physicians also are not yet rating the Internet as a highly-valued resource.

More than 1,500 PCPs Share Insights into the Service Experience

TNS Healthcare’s findings are based on a new Internet survey with 1,500 primary care physicians from TNS’s J Street Internet Panel in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The survey explores the sales and service experiences physicians value most, as well as how they would rate 15 companies on delivering those preferred experiences. Rep relationship scores are developed from TNS’s TRI*M Index, a unique measure of relationship strength between companies and their stakeholders.

About TNS Healthcare…

TNS Healthcare provides market research consulting to the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries, as well as health-focused ad agencies, media and analysts. It offers globally consistent solutions and custom advisory services to support product introductions; brand, treatment and sales performance optimization; and physician and DTC promotional assessment.

Informing decisions across the life cycle, TNS Healthcare offers action-ready insights for pre-launch landscaping, market and opportunity assessment, segmentation, positioning, message and campaign creation, pricing, forecasting, attitude and awareness measurement and post-launch tracking. It delivers information across stakeholders— including physicians, patients and consumers—to help companies anticipate and impact customers’ behaviors. TNS Healthcare provides both qualitative and quantitative offerings, using traditional and on-line methodologies, combining worldwide reach with local expertise.

About TNS…

TNS is a global market insight and information group.

Our strategic goal is to be recognized as the global leader in delivering value-added information and insights that help our clients to make more effective decisions.

As industry thought leaders, our people deliver innovative thinking and excellent service to global organizations and local clients worldwide. We work in partnership with our clients, meeting their needs for high-quality information, analysis and foresight across our network of over 70 countries.

We are the world’s foremost provider of custom research and analysis, combining in-depth industry sector understanding with world-class expertise in the areas of Retail and Shopper Insights, Stakeholder Management, New Product Development, and Brand and Communications. We are a major supplier of consumer panel, media intelligence and internet, TV and radio audience measurement services.

TNS is the sixth sense of business.

For More Information…

For more information, please contact Ilene Siegalovsky, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for TNS Healthcare at 201-836-0040, ext. 225 or

Ilene.Siegalovsky@tns-global.com. To learn more about TNS Healthcare, please visit www.tnsglobal.com/healthcare.

Posted: June 2008


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