Pharma market research industry sure came close to a cliff with the Sunshine Act
by Madhunika Raghavan
We fully support the work done by the PMRG in concert with the MRA and CASRO to effect the language change in the Sunshine Act Legislation around marketing research payments for a few reasons:
1. It is really important to continue to encourage physicians to participate in market research.
- Pharma / device companies need a full picture of the diverse practices, opinions, and needs of physicians across the USA in order to inform their R&D decisions.
- Discouraging physicians from participation would inhibit the ability of companies to develop needed technology, strategies, etc.
2. Nearly a third of physicians would have taken themselves out of doing surveys, otherwise. This would have been a real loss, even for physicians, as our study shows that they feel they personally benefit from their participation in market research:
- Physicians feel participation helps them:
- "be in the know" about new product developments,
- to better understand the needs of their patients (maybe through forcing them to evaluate their treatments and preferences, in qualitative encouraging physician discussion with colleagues, etc)
- Physicians enjoy contributing ideas and knowing opinions are valued,
3. There is a trickle-down benefit of all this for patients - physician inputs to research can only result in better things for them.
- new product development
- understanding unmet needs
4. But we sure came close to a cliff, so we need to be vigilant as a research community and encourage better practices - self-regulate, before we are pressed. We learned from our survey that there could be other ways to motivate doctors - sure, honoraria in cash is most preferred, but there was a willingness to consider other options should the language in the Sunshine Act have prevailed. This offers an opportunity to explore more creative ways to encourage participation in this finite, valuable population, or else cash incentives will likely continue to rise to the level where added scrutiny will again become inevitable.