Recently I was invited to a pre-market sales research interview. Drug companies conduct these interviews with physicians to see if one particular marketing strategy is more effective than another. This particular research was for a new drug that would replace an older drug that was losing its patent protection.
In clinical studies, the new drug was marginally more effective than a placebo but this was enough to satisfy the FDA. Now the question is how do you promote a drug that is only slightly more effective than a placebo?
The interviewer asked me how you think we can promote this drug but first I wanted to know was it more effective than the older drug that is now going to be available in generic form? I suggested that you really should conduct a clinical trial comparing this drug to the most effective drug already available for the disease!
How are you going to promote a new soda in the market? Are you going to compare it to water or are you going to compare it to the market leaders, Coke® and Pepsi®?
Unfortunately in the medical field you can succeed even without comparing your drug to the best treatment currently available for the disease. Drug companies do it by sending thousands of drug salespeople to doctor’s offices, leaving tons of samples and telling doctors that the new drug is better -- after all, the FDA gave its stamp of approval.