Takeda tops in marketing to PBMs, HMOs

Drugmakers are spending more time on lobbying these days ... and not just politicians. Of necessity, pharma has focused more of its marketing efforts not on the docs that prescribe the drugs, but managed care and pharmacy benefit plans that decide which to pay for. According to SDI, a market research firm, most of that effort comes soon after drugs hit the market.

In fact, some 70 percent of HMOs and PBMs review new drugs three to six months after they make their market debuts. Fifteen percent take 7 to 12 months, and four percent review meds sooner. So, it follows that companies with more new meds spend more time targeting healthcare payers. "Managed care plans often evaluate a product a few months after its introduction and decide whether to include it on their formulary," Nick Carras, an SDI senior product manager said, "and at what formulary tier."

As you know, inclusion on PBM and HMO formularies--and at which tier--are often make-or-break propositions for a new drug. Formulary tiers determine how much insurers will pay for meds, and how much they expect patients to pay. Higher co-pays are obviously bad, because they can scare patients away.

Who's most active in the HMO-slash-PBM area right now? An SDI study found that Takeda Pharmaceutical made the most visits to managed care types in spring 2009, with almost 7 percent of all contacts between drugmakers and drug gatekeepers. On more than three-fourths of those calls, Takeda was pushing for its two new products, Kapidex and Uloric. Close behind came AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Abbott Laboratories, each with about five percent of reported visits. 

- see the SDI release