Somewhat overtaken by yesterday's inaugural results and strategy presentation by the new CEO, Emma Walmsley, was the announcement the previous day that GSK was appointing Karenann Terrell as Chief Digital and Technology Officer. Karenann Terrell was formerly Chief Information Officer at Walmart. Describing this as a new role for GSK and making it part of the Corporate Executive Team, the remit is global and acknowledges the need to bring new technologies to GSK across all areas of activity. It is to be hoped that GSK can now make a determined effort to place "Data" - its capture, storage and analysis - a core competence within the group. This commentator has long held the view that robust and accurate analysis of commercial data can add 5% points to group margins by eliminating wasted promotional effort and focusing commercial input on customers and activities that are responsive. The notion that sales and marketing spend is an intrinsic part of the social contract (ie the freedom to influence demand) only remains true if it is part of an integrated attempt to bring education and knowledge about the disease and its treatments to payors, physicians and patients. As soon as it becomes excessive in its scope and amount there will rightly be pushback from all stakeholders arguing that sales and marketing spend be invested in lower prices instead. The industry has yet to define what is excessive but the availability of leading edge statistical methodologies to quantify the relationship between promotion and sales will help each company to identify that for itself. The question is rather, are companies brave enough to accept the need for change and to embrace these new ideas. GSK has previously been in the forefront of making changes that the industry follows (see the PharmaFutures projects www.pharmafutures.org ). Let's see if GSK can lead the charge once again.
The author was a Pharmaceutical Analyst at Lehman Brothers for 23 years as well as being involved with the PharmaFutures projectswww.pharmafutures.org but is now writing independently. Stewart Adkins is a Director of Pharmaforensic Limited www.pharmaforensic.co.uk
Stewart Adkins was a Pharmaceutical Analyst at Lehman Brothers for 23 years and was involved with the Pharmafutures projects.