Novartis Pilot Projects Will Shift Marketing Attention To Insurers

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Novartis officials on Thursday announced pilot projectsin three states aimed at developing closer relations with health insurers andHMOs, which increasingly are influencing what medications physicians prescribe,the Wall Street Journal reports. The pilot projects will begin inJanuary 2008 in Minnesota, Oregonand Washingtonstate.

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According to the Journal, "The move reflects a growingreality" in the pharmaceutical industry as major payers seek to cut healthcare costs by influencing physician prescribing habits. In some U.S. markets,many physicians work for HMOs that decide which drugs to cover based on costand efficacy. Physicians often are less likely to prescribe drugs if payersrefuse to cover the medications. The Journal reports that the"frugality of payers is a big reason pharmaceutical companies aretightening their belts and predicting a sales slowdown."

Joe Jimenez, CEO of the Novartis pharmaceutical division, said that salesrepresentatives in some markets will focus more attention on payers and less onindividual physicians. He added that in HMO markets, "if you are organizedaround the physician, you are missing the key influencer." If the projectsare successful, the initiative will be introduced to other areas of the U.S. and in Europe(Whalen, Wall Street Journal, 12/14).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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