Three associations for pharmaceutical marketing and communications professionalseach representing a different region of the countryhave merged to form the Healthcare Communication & Marketing Association in a move said to combine the strengths and resources of each.
It will make a significant difference within our industry, because you have three organizations that have been around for more than 45 years and operating independently in their regions of the country, said association spokeswoman Marita Gomez. The consolidation will reportedly provide greater networking and mentoring opportunities as well as offering national recognition for marketing, communication and education excellence. There will be a reduction of association staff, but not in any member benefits, Gomez said.
In all, the change will affect some 2,000 people who belong to either the Medical Marketing Association, a predominantly West Coast organization; the Midwest Healthcare Marketing Association; and the Healthcare Marketing and Communications Council, which is primarily an East Coast group. Members primarily market or provide education to healthcare providers and consumers about drugs, devices and biotechnology products.
Gomez said the first combined program being developed (with assistance from GlaxoSmithKline) will train association members how to better communicate with physicians.
The move isnt expected to have much of an effect on efforts to limit drug marketing to physicians. Pharmaceutical marketing opponent Frederick Sierles, a professor and director of medical student education at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, wondered if any improvement was necessary in the marketing of drugs to doctors. I thought they were already pretty good at what they do, Sierles said. Its within the world of commercialism and training people to sell more stuff to doctors. But, in my view, none of these people are necessary for the training of doctors, because medical schools and medical societies should do that.
American Medical Student Association President Michael Ehlert, a recent graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, said his group opposes direct-to-physician marketing, but doesnt oppose the merger. Its absolutely fine for people who are working for a living to talk to each other and learn from each other, said Ehlert, though he added that studies have shown that direct-to-physician marketing can adversely affect prescribing.