Neil Matheson, Atlantis Health

Industry perspectives: shifts in HCP interaction, evolution in practice of medicine

By Maria Fontanazza • [email protected]

As Med Ad News celebrates 40 years of serving the pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing and advertising community, we sat down with several subject matter experts to reflect on the evolution of the industry and where we’re headed. More of that to come in our special August issue, and over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing content online from these exclusive interviews.

This week Editorial Advisory Board member Neil Matheson, Chairman, Atlantis Health discusses the most significant changes he’s witnessed over the past few decades.

Neil Matheson: The biggest changes fall into three different buckets (and within those buckets there are a plethora of changes).

  • There’s been a massive change in the personal interaction with healthcare professionals. There’s been a major shift away from sponsored educational events and the type of things where we would run educational weekends that were interspersed with educational events and the opportunity for healthcare professionals to talk to each other and be in a social environment. That’s due to the regulations of pharmaceutical marketing and more specifically, pharmaceutical advertising, with a parallel shift in terms of continuing medical education becoming fire-walled and as independent as possible from industry sponsorship, as well as a move away from the types of activities that pharmaceutical marketers use to engage in that involved remuneration in kind.
  • The second and the most obvious change must be the shift from print-based media to digital media; the impact of digital technology and the massive impact of online and social media communication that’s really shifted everything away from print-based activities to digital activities. It’s been a phenomenal shift.
  • The third change is not related to pharmaceutical marketing and advertising, and more related to the whole practice of medicine where we’ve seen a massive increase in the understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of disease, and therefore a massive increase in the potential targets for drug therapy, which has driven a real need for scientific credibility — and in some cases very complicated mechanisms of action of drugs and the interaction with some disease processes. So there’s been a shift from what I call pure marketing and promotion much more towards scientific and medical/clinical education as a backbone to promotion, with a lot more emphasis on the scientific side of the business and the clinical side of the business –especially in areas that are complex like oncology, rare diseases, genetically based diseases, and of course the impact of mapping the human genome and the possibilities it provides in terms of gene therapy is massive.

Maria Fontanazza is the director of content, Med Ad News and