We are about to all have a very bad year, financially speaking. There are all sorts of horrible pressures coming to bear on us as individuals, as companies and on government. In particular, state governments are going to face serious shortfalls.
There is a great deal of speculation about where health care reforms in general, and FDA and pharmaceutical marketing reforms in particular, are going to fit in terms of priorities given all of the other quite dramatic issues that need to be addressed – the economy, banking and finance reform, the auto industry, two wars … you get the idea. Two thoughts for consideration along those lines:
- State Needs and Action
– A GAO Report released yesterday called "State and Local Fiscal Challenges – Rising Health Care Costs Drive Long-term and Immediate Pressures"indicates that if reforms at the federal level take a back seat to other pressing and urgent problems, states are going to be motivated to take action. And as seen in Massachusetts and elsewhere, that action can have a dramatic effect on healthcare access as well as costs. Medicaid is a large purchaser of drugs and states are going to look at that, as well as other means, to make changes that draw down costs.
– While the economy, banking and finance reform are surely priorities for the coming Obama Administration, remember that Congress is going to be the driver of a good deal of FDA and pharmaceutical marketing reforms. And as the $700 billion rescue package attests, they don't exactly know what they want to do with respect to these reforms. But respecting pharmaceutical market and FDA reforms, they have a pretty good idea what they want to do. It may be easier for them to do that for which they know they have a vision, compared to that for which they are guessing. And those funds can and may include, to name a few:
- DTC Moratoria
- Fundamental changes in the relationships and communications between doctors and pharmaceutical companies
- Separation of office of approval from office of drug safety
All of this is occurring against a backdrop where, if the pharmaceutical industry wants to wage public affairs battles, they are left doing so the old fashioned way, because there has been insignificant investment on the part of many, if not most, in getting involved in devising digital means of communication. And one of the many communications lessons learned from the Obama campaign is that he that cannot lead in digital, will lose. Simply put, you cannot win a public affairs campaign without it.
The bottom line – if you are looking for where the reform begins in this coming year, it may not be here in Washington. Look to the states.