Eli Lilly & Co. is back on top – but not alone – as the brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturer that pharmacists perceive as most committed to pharmacy, according to this site’s exclusive annual Corporate Honor Roll survey. Lilly topped the poll in 1997, fell to second last year, and now, in 1999, is back to reclaim its throne.
This year, however, Lilly does not rule alone; Schering-Plough tied for first place this year as most committed to pharmacy, a dramatic rise from its sixth place finish in 1998, and its No. 4 ranking in 1997.
Lilly and Schering both received 20.6 percent of pharmacists’ votes. Pfizer was a close third, with 17.6 percent, catapulting the company from its seventh place finish in 1998. Last year’s No. 1 – Glaxo Wellcome – tumbled to fifth place with 11.8 percent of votes (Table 1).
Among generic drug manufacturers, Mylan continued its reign of dominance, taking home top honors for the fifth consecutive year despite also being selected as the generic company whose relations with pharmacy had worsened most in the last year. Nonetheless, Mylan was pharmacists’ top pick for all four business categories examined (Tables 4-7).
Apothecon and Zenith Goldline tied for second as the generic companies most committed to pharmacy; Apothecon was No. 3 last year, while Zenith Goldline soared from No. 7.
This year’s survey was sent to 1,500 pharmacists; response rate was 8 percent. Some 45.6 percent of responses came from independent pharmacies, 28.7 percent from traditional chains, 19.8 percent from food/drug combos and 6.9 percent from mass merchandisers. Seventy-two percent of respondents were male; 28 percent were female.
The “Most Committed To Pharmacy” question was conducted somewhat differently from previous years. Until this year, the questionnaire allowed pharmacists to choose their top-three companies in that category, and rankings were based on percentage of top-three mentions. This year, pharmacists were given only one choice for “Most Committed To Pharmacy.”
With Schering-Plough’s rise from No. 6 to No. 1, it was no surprise the company also scored top honors as the brand-name company that most improved its relations with pharmacy, grabbing 20.8 percent of votes, followed by Pfizer, with 12.5 percent and Glaxo Wellcome, with 10.4 percent. One pharmacist noted that Schering’s “salespeople are calling on pharmacies again.” Another commented on the company’s “increasing availability of product info.” Pfizer won votes for “Viagra’s gross profit margins for the pharmacy” and for “product development.”
Apothecon and Mylan tied for top honors for generic companies that most improved relations with pharmacy, each capturing 12.5 percent of votes. Apothecon was lauded by a number of pharmacists for improved deals and dating; Mylan was cited for good advertising and having the broadest product line.
Ironically, it was also Mylan that won the dubious honor of most worsened relations with pharmacies among generic drug makers – getting an overwhelming 68.4 percent of votes versus a mere 10.5 percent for runner-up Rugby. For the last two years, pharmacists have bitterly complained about increasing prices for Mylan products.
Committed To Pharmacy
Lilly, Schering Tie For First
Lilly steps up a notch, while Schering-Plough surges forward to
create a dead heat as the brand-name companies pharmacists say are
most supportive of pharmacy; meanwhile, Mylan retains its grip as
the top generic drug company for the fifth consecutive year.
Brand Total 1988 Rank
1. LILLY 20.6% 2
1. SCHERING-PLOUGH 20.6% 6
3. PFIZER 17.6% 7
4. MERCK 16.2% 3
5. GLAXO WELLCOME 11.8% 1
6. WYETH-AYERST 7.4% 4
Generic Total 1998 Rank
1. MYLAN 26.8% 1
2. APOTHECON 12.5% 3
2. ZENITH GOLDLINE 12.5% 7
4. SCHEIN 10.7% 8
5. GENEVA 8.9% 5
6. WARRICK 5.4% 10
6. WATSON 5.4% N/A
Improving Relations Schering Makes Strides
Pharmacists said Schering was the brand-name company that most
improved its relations with pharmacy in the last year. On the
generic side, Apothecon and Mylan tied for top honors.
Brand Total 1998 Flank
1. SCHERING-PLOUGH 20.8% 4
2. PFIZER 12.5% 7
3. GLAXO WELLCOME 10.4% 1
4. LILLY 8.3% 3
4. PARKE-DAVIS 8.3% N/A
Generic Total 1998 Rank
1. APOTHECON 12.5% 2
2. MYLAN 12.5% 5
3. TEVA 9.4% 8
Among brand-name companies, Merck again topped the list of companies whose relationship with pharmacy worsened, as it has each year since acquiring Medco in 1994. That PBM merger still stings pharmacists, as a whopping 44.9 percent of them named Merck in the worsened relations category, far ahead of runner-up Abbott (24.5 percent) and third-place Pfizer (6.1 percent). One pharmacist complained that Abbott’s “policy of no returns hurts pharmacy retailers and favors wholesalers. Not only do we not get return monies, we have to pay for destruction of outdated product. We have not benefited from a one percent credit they offer.”
As has been the trend for several years, pharmacists also said that their relationships with pharmaceutical manufacturers have grown more distant. Forty-four percent said that consolidation in industry had resulted in less contact with manufacturers and 41 percent said it had led manufacturers to place less emphasis on their relationships with pharmacy. Pharmacists were split as to whether the consolidation had led to more or less competitive pricing and services.
Among pharmacists’ complaints:
“Very few reps call on us. No one deals directly with us!”
“We seldom see a drug rep.”
“Major drug companies don’t give a damn about the survival of the independent pharmacy. They should show us more respect.”
“All I ask from the drug companies is to introduce the new product to me seven to ten days before it appears on TV.”
To that end, 39.4 percent of pharmacists said they would like to get more calls from pharmaceutical sales reps; slightly more than 30 percent said they would prefer fewer such calls. Twenty percent said they preferred calls by appointment.
Pharmacists this year showed less opposition to the ever-increasing barrage of direct-to-consumer advertising coming from pharmaceutical manufacturers. In 1998, some 63.5 percent of pharmacists said they opposed DTC ads; this year’s survey found only 54.5 percent were opposed. Of those who said they favored DTC ads, the majority said they preferred that the ads mentioned pharmacists as patient counselors.