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July 16, 2002
Marketing Ueber Alles
The Wall St. Journal's "Heard on the Street" column today made the case that Pfizer's expansion isn't really about scientific research. It's about marketing. They'll have a monstrously huge sales force, a big advertising budget, and so on. The article makes many of the same points that I've been harping on, though, about how getting larger doesn't buy you more drugs in your pipeline.
And they probably have a point about the marketing (bigger, for once, really is better) - but someone's got to do the research. Otherwise, what's there to market? There's only so much that a high-powered sales organization can do. Even internal ripoff drugs like Clarinex and Nexium take up research time (to prove that they're at least as good as the original,) and they're likely to get harder to sell as time goes on. Finding the new drugs is something that every company has to get around to doing, eventually, and that's where the research really has to go.
By the way, it wouldn't surprise me, in the long run, to see a requirement from the FDA to test patent-extension drugs like the above against their parent compounds. Right now, that just isn't done (the studies are generally run placebo-controlled, just like the original drug.) But a head-to-head trial of Claritin versus Clarinex (or Nexium versus Prilosec) would be a fascinating exercise. Let's see the marketing folks explain the results of those!<
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