Snafus waiting to happen? Pharma's digital silos stymie end-to-end promo management

Cobbled-together software systems aren't going to cut it anymore for pharma, according to a new survey sponsored by Veeva Systems.

The explosion in digital communications has outpaced the tracking software needed to manage the numerous pieces of multichannel content, and that's beginning to cause problems. Compliance gaps are springing up, created as legacy analog and new digital systems try to mesh, while also living in different silos across large organizations.

Brian Harper, director of Veeva Vault PromoMats, said the "a-ha" finding in the survey was that while most companies could quickly come up with a wish list of what they needed from a promotional management system, the "overwhelming majority" said they didn't have all or even many of those tools.

For instance, 81% said they can't report exactly where product claims and content are being used, while another 77% said they can't withdraw expired or outdated content from multiple channels. Another 49% couldn't provide an end-to-end audit trail of content through its entire lifecycle.

And mish-mash promotions management systems are not only inefficient, but also could result in problems with FDA compliance.

Veeva Systems' Brian Harper

Harper gave an example: Suppose an effectiveness claim for a branded drug changes while it's on the market. The FDA requires that action be taken immediately to change the claim, but if the company can't find all the materials on market, it would have to resort to manual searching--and possibly even pulling the whole campaign until it was corrected.

He characterized the current market as a few companies on the leading edge--possibly pushed there by a non-compliance event--but with the majority of drugmakers not there yet. In fact, 88% of those surveyed rely on multiple systems, with an average of four in use. Almost one-third (31%) reported using between five and 20 systems to manage promotional materials.

"The more you can move down the spectrum to the right and get closer to a single system, not only will you close compliance gaps, but you'll also see greater satisfaction in your organization and open up capabilities in marketing you can't recognize right now," Harper said.

Veeva, which creates and manages promotional management systems, has a vested interest in the adoption of end-to-end software, but Harper said the survey was conducted independently and also reviewed by a third-party statistician.

Pharma companies are going to have to get more organized digitally whether pushed or not. A new FDA regulation that goes into effect in May will require life science companies to submit promotional materials digitally. Currently the FDA receives some 80,000 pieces of promotional material every year.

- read Veeva's blog post