Friday, August 28, 2009

More and more talking points


There is no doubt good salesmen are good listeners (after all active listening is a major part of communication process), however, the sheet anchor of marketing messaging is good talking points. Marketers are always on the hunt for good talking points, prospects, customers, and target markets. Talking points need to be keenly developed from the point of view of recipient and sender. If there is a great talking point, which is not properly understood by the salesman, and hence, is not put across by the sender or salesman to the doctor, then the talking point becomes a dud. So talking points should be appreciated by the sender and ought to be attractive to the recipient too.

Marketers are forever looking for creative and crafty ways of messaging. This is because differentiation in the messaging process and in the message itself, is very vital for brand registration and unaided brand recall.

In pharma marketing, the core talking points are usually from pharmacology (particularly clinical science of the drug). Doctors appreciate the talking points of pharma products based on safety, efficacy, and patient convenience. Hence, pharma marketers endeavor to provide talking points on the above aspects that they believe will persuade prospect doctors, customer doctors, and help in engineering favourable brand prescribing habits.

The importance of pharmaceutics

Pharmacology and 'clinical science' are no doubt important pillars for development of pharma marketing talking points. However,the discipline of pharmaceutics also has a lot to offer for good marketing talking points. Pharmaceutics is a critical science that converts a 'drug into medicine'. Pharmaceutics is a vast subject involved in design and formulation of suitable drug delivery dosage forms. Pharmaceutics creates the means of administering drugs into the body in a safe, efficient, reproducible, and convenient manner.

Dialogue with the formulation guys

Marketers are normally glued to market conversations and market feedbacks to constantly refine strategies. Similarly, the formulation guys are in another sector working out the formulations based on the chemistry of the drug and pharma technologies. There are often no meeting grounds between the marketers and formulators. They formulate and we market the formulations - this seems to be the usual working rule.

When marketers are in touch with the formulation guys mirroring the market feedbacks, the formulators obviously will be receiving another dimension of inputs for their work. Similarly, the formulation personnel can bounce back to pharma marketers, certain formulation subtleties that enhance safety, efficacy, and patient convenience.

There are many formulation parameters that can help provide the marketing edge. Lupin had launched their brand of atorvastatin in the form of a heart-shaped tablet. This was a simple formulation feature that helped marketers gain more mindshare of the target doctors. Emcure has been talking a lot about their flash technology for some time now, which helps in faster disintegration of tablets. Nimulid (Nimesulide from Panacea Biotec) has a pharmaceutics based talking point: Nimulid has a rapid dissolution (can dissolve in the mouth and the patient need not drink water to consume the tablet). These unique pharmaceutics based talking points help in creating memory pegs in the doctor's mind for better mindshare and marketshare.


Particle size of the drug plays a major role in the flow and compression properties during manufacturing. Particle size also influences dissolution profiles. For example, when poorly soluble drugs have a reduced particle size their surface area increases. This improves dissolution by increasing wettability (due to enhanced surface area).

Chemical agents in the formulation that help in rapid disintegration of the tablet will help reduce the time of absorption of the drug.

There are also special polymers that act as carriers for drugs across the gut membrane improving bioavailability (or amount and rate of drug available in the systemic blood stream from a given dosage formulation). Such polymers have been used in Becosules Z (multivitamin zinc capsules from Pfizer) to improve vitamin absorption in the small intestines.

Crystal habit refers to the external shape of the crystals (eg. of drugs). For instance, Ciprofloxacin a fluoroquinolone antibiotic is available as needle shaped and plate shaped crystals. Obviously, crystal habit influences rate of dissolution.

When we compare a long needle shaped crystal and a spherical shaped crystal, their crystal habit differ. The surface area of needle shaped crystal is 2.7 times that of spherical shaped crystal (if they have the same mass). As the surface area of the needle shaped crystal is more than the sphere, the needle shaped crystal will dissolve much faster.

Yet needle shaped crystals may not always be the answer as tablets may crumble due to lack of compaction strength, as in the case of paracetamol needle shaped crystals. However, if you have a paracetamol tablet or suspension that is stable and full of fast dissolving needle shaped crystals, then you have a talking point with the doctor. Of course, there are doctors who will also want to have clinical evidence on this point. Nevertheless, there is scope for differentiation in the messaging content through use of pharmaceutics.

Formulation scientists will be able to deliver cutting edge pharma products through application of pharma technologies that are marketing friendly - if marketers share and discuss market insights, competitor data, and market trends with the pharmaceutics professionals. And this, in turn, will contribute to creating better talking points for the marketed product.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down to read all other blogposts - click on OLDER POSTS wherever required. Please do inform your acquaintances about this blog.

No comments: