Corrections or additions?
This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the March 24, 2004
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. Minor changes were made March 31. All
Pharma Marketers Go High Tech
Online pharmaceutical marketing is working, says Peter Nalen of
Compass Healthcare Communications on Chambers Street. “Our clients’
most coveted targets are the people who are coming online,” he says.
“They are not sitting back, as when they watch television, but they
are sitting forward as at the keyboard. They have raised their hand
and are saying they want information.”
Last October, with Kristin Marvin Keller and Jack Bilson III, Nalen
founded Compass Healthcare Communications to do brand and E-marketing
for pharmaceutical and biopharma companies. The name is meant to imply
providing direction in an area where people are seeking guidance. For
his future clients, the Internet may be a relatively unfamiliar
“Thanks to the hard work of Simstar and the other pioneers in our
industry, the major brands look to the Internet as one of their
marketing tools,” says Nalen. Nalen had worked at Simstar at 202
Carnegie Center for two years and says he left because of “differing
thoughts on the direction of the company and differing views on
Nalen feels confident about his building-a-business capability. “I
have helped startups, including medical device firms and advertising
agencies,” he says, “and I have seen them grow rapidly and shrink just
as rapidly. I feel confident that I know what works and what doesn’t
Nalen grew up near Minneapolis, where his father was a marketing
executive, and graduated in 1983 from Middlebury College with a double
major in American literature and marine biology. The latter involved a
term at Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole, Massachusetts,
and a trip on a 120-foot schooner to the Bahamas. He worked for
General Mills while earning his marketing MBA from Kellogg in 1987,
then did consumer product brand management at Proctor & Gamble in
Cincinnati; Johnson & Johnson, working on Purpose skin care and Clean
& Clear; and at the Sawtooth Group in Woodbridge.
Nalen took a hiatus from corporate world and spent two years in
Vermont, where he ran marketing for a snowboard company, before moving
back to Princeton to work at Simstar. His wife, an actress who was a
cohost on a cable television show, is starting a premium chocolate
company, and they have three schoolage children.
His network of providers started with his Kingston hockey team, where
Matthew Henderson of Princeton Real Estate Group is his teammate and
helped him rent space in the Henderson-owned building at 34 Chambers.
Through another player he located his attorney, Thomas Gombar, in
Pennington. Bookkeepers Plus provided internal accounting software,
and Steve Wills at Golomb Wills does the accounting. William Harley
Builders helped with the buildout, though the Compass staff did some
of it themselves, and O’Hearn Work helped hang white board like
wallpaper. Their staff photo is by Pryde Brown.
Nalen wants to work for the brands that are the second, third, or
fourth in a particular area, the ones that may not enjoy the same
sales force or marketing support that the leading brands receive.
(Nalen says Simstar is targeting different brands from Compass, but,
when asked for a comment, Andrew Friedman, Simstar’s chief financial
officer, said that whether Compass is competition to Simstar remains
to be seen.)
“We are looking for the brands that are second or third in the
category, not the blockbusters,” says Nalen. With less money for heavy
television and print advertising, “they need to do more with less.”
Brand managers with significant agency-run programs enjoy additional
marketing support from those agencies. “We fill the strategy void.”
He says he can provide the “prescription purchase dynamic,” the
marketing ploy that prods someone with a prescription in hand to go
out and actually spend the money for that prescription. Here are his
prescriptions for the drug makers:
Make sure the brand’s site is a communications vehicle, not an
advertising ploy. “It is a medium to be used for information. People
will get the information from wherever they are comfortable.”
Develop content for other websites such as WebMD or Yahoo Health.
Target those who have just gotten a prescription. “Up to a third of
the patients don’t fill prescriptions for some of the chronic
conditions, such as asthma or high cholesterol. A lot of folks will go
online to verify the prescription, to see ‘what is this drug I am
supposed to take, and what are the potential side effects.’”
Put your URL on everything. “You’d be surprised how many companies
give out samples and don’t put the URL on them. We tell our clients,
you have driven the 95 yards, and you can see the end zone. But you
didn’t provide the website to assuage any fears.”
Use a special URL on sample boxes. This page could begin “You have a
sample in your hand…”
Use search engine marketing to get your brand higher. “We can buy key
words but we also are careful to develop the sites so they naturally
come up as high as they can on Google-type searches,” he says.
“Unfortunately the Canadian pharmacies are very good at search engine
marketing, and sometimes the whole first page of a search is listings
from the pharmacies. Google may be looking at ways to ensure the
legitimacy of properties that end up on their search sites.”
Know what the brand manager is being measured against. “You can’t
develop online tactics just because they are cool or sexy. You have to
begin with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey says. We build into our
plan ways to be sure it can be measured, both online and offline.”
Keep it simple. “Our industry may have done itself a disservice by
overcomplicating what we do. Marketing at the end of the day is
straightforward, and the Internet is just another marketing vehicle.
Teach the behavior of taking prescription. Americans are taught as
children to take vitamins, but most adults have very poor pill taking
habits. “When you take a pill you remind yourself that you are sick,”
he says, “which is not positive.”
“We believe physicians are busy,” says Nalen, “and we want to do
anything we can do to help them manage better and quicker, such as
providing a self service center online to order samples or download
information. Adoption of the Internet by doctors is a little slower
than for the consumers, who got used to the Internet at work and are
using it at home.” In contrast, physicians are learning to get
comfortable with the Internet at home and are importing it to work.
“But if you make it easy for doctors, they will come.”
The Internet’s unparalleled capacity to offer information is what
drove Nalen into starting this business. “My older brother had a bout
with cancer in the early ‘90s, and if we had had more information
sooner, my brother might still be with us,” says Nalen.
In the 1990s, before his brother died, the two became very close. “We
were competitive early on, but we figured out late in life that we
were the only ones who did things we like to do in the extremes that
we like to do them — flyfishing for 14 hours straight, eight hours of
non-stop skiing, and hockey. We ended up being great friends.”
The name of the company derives from this friendship, partly because
it reflects his brother’s values, “true north, integrity, and
honesty,” and partly because they went on a camping trip without a
compass and got lost. “We would just use a map and ‘jump ridges’ but
we got turned around and couldn’t find the trail. We followed a stream
to a lake, and then we knew where we were. From that time on, I always
carried a compass, the same one, like a good luck charm.”
“What works sounds corny,” says Nalen, “but if you are honest with
employees and clients, you are going to win at the end of the day.”
Compass Healthcare Communications, 34 Chambers Street, Princeton
08542. Peter Nalen, president/CEO. 609-688-8440; fax, 609-688-8399.
Home page: www.compasshc.com
Yet another product has moved from military use to civilian life —
analytical modeling. The war-game simulation methods that were used to
train Norman Schwarzkopf can now be employed by pharmaceutical
“Several of the pharmaceutical companies I have talked to are
interested in the active wargaming approach to market analysis,” says
F. Thomas Balzer, CEO of Optio Research at Forrestal Village. “I think
it’s because the market has become so much more competitive.”
Fewer chemical entities are on the market, and the markets are
saturated with sales reps, says Balzer. Yet today’s technology can
increase chances for success. “With a wargaming approach, you can
figure out in a safe environment what promotional strategies to
emphasize, and what can be reduced, without risking the value of the
“It is much more robust,” says Balzer. “It allows you to evaluate
scenarios in which you are changing lots of the parameters at the same
Optio Research, a tenant at Forrestal Village since last fall, offers
both syndicated and client-specific market and brand share forecasts
for major diseases. The firm has initial seed funding from MediPhase
Ventures in Boston, which also funded Mount Laurel-based Impact RX,
another company started by Optio’s co-founder, Gerry Gallivan. The
company employs four people now, expects to mark the dozen mark by the
end of the year, and is just about ready to release its first product.
Optio Research’s quarterly syndicated reports, which anyone can buy,
cover a rolling 24-month period. They are based on Optio’s own
research and on information available in the public domain.
Optio’s “value added” is the gathering of the data and the analysis
that develops projections. Client-specific forecasts can incorporate
proprietary information from the client, such as a new product launch
or the reconfiguring of the sales force.
The pharmaceutical services area is the second career for CEO Balzer,
but he is not new to the business of forecasting. Balzer had been a
forecasting expert for the military, and he has also done analytical
modeling for such pharmaceutical companies as Quintiles and ZS
As a field artillery officer in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1986,
Balzer commanded a unit in Vietnam. He spent four years at the U.S.
Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas,
using war game simulations to train active army and reserve officers,
His final military assignment was to be the lead analyst for
conventional war gaming at the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
His conventional force combat simulation models were used to assess
global contingency scenarios.
A Chicago native, Balzer is the son of an HVAC mechanical engineer,
and his academic credentials include a BA from Park College in Kansas,
a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, and an
MBA from Central Michigan University. He worked on the MBA, a weekend
program, while he was stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He also
has a PhD in operations research from the University of New South
Wales in Australia.
After he left the army, he worked for pharmaceutical companies in 20
countries, logged in 100,000 airline miles a month, and was outside
the United States nearly 200 days a year. His wife, Judy, is from
Australia, and they have two grown children.
The co-founder of Optio Research and board chairman is Peter Ernster,
the retired senior vice president of business management for Merck’s
U.S. pharmaceutical business, where he guided Merck’s first use of
systems dynamics-based forecasting and planning used in a successful
Co-founder Gallivan worked for Merck in Canada, and when he took over
Merck’s U.S. sales force, he paid attention to the reasoning processes
that determine the real reaction of doctors to promotional activity.
To develop this idea he founded ImpactRx, a Mt. Laurel-based company
that aims for longitudinal perspective by relating promotion efforts
to subsequent prescriptions written by doctors.
Pharmaceutical companies traditionally do statistics-based analysis of
historical trends and project them into the future, says Balzer.
Simulation studies, in contrast, also account for what is driving
change. A simulation study lets clients predict what would happen if
they invested heavily in a particular sales strategy — adding
“detailer” staff for sales to physicians, spending money on
advertising for direct to consumer sales, or adjusting prices for
managed care contracts.
“Through our website forecasting we really are into business
simulation, deciding how to employ the resources across the right time
and the right place in the product portfolio to maximize the return on
investments,” says Balzer. “Our simulation models offer an opportunity
to evaluate a number of scenarios and pick the best resource
allocation strategy to maximize the return on a client’s investment.”
“The other unique feature of our planning system is that we actively
model the competitive response. Traditionally you would look at the
statistical variation, all things being equal, and not consider what a
competitor might do. But our system models the competitive response to
whatever systems you are employing.”
“Our fundamental methodology, system dynamics, was invented in 1960 at
MIT and has been used successfully in a number of very complex
environmental assessments,” says Balzer. A calculus based technology,
it allows for all the variables changing at the same time. The FAA
used system dynamics to model the air traffic system in the United
Balzer prefers to compare his models to environmental/global warming
models, where the effects of decisions are not closely related in
time. “You have to include how long the strategy takes to play out in
Optio Research Inc., 116 Village Boulevard, Suite 300, Princeton
08540. F. Thomas Balzer, CEO. 609-720-9600; fax, 609-720-9330. Home
On a battlefield, medics do triage — they decide which cases the
doctors should see first, and which can wait. In medical marketing,
Triage HealthCom has a similar goal, to prioritize data and
information to create a clinical and health economic platform for
product lifecycle marketing.
Says John P. Proach, a principal at Triage Healthcom LLC: “In our
business, we don’t market products, pills, or devices, or injections.
We market information.” This information is crucial to the success of
value-based market access strategies, medical marketing, and the
commercial success of products or franchises. “The more information
you have to bring you closer to your objective, the better it is.”
“We want to be the client’s partner in the identification and
commercial development of life science products or technologies and
assist them in bringing them to market successfully,” says Proach. His
company assesses market opportunities, clears reimbursement and
regulatory hurdles, plans and designs, collects value based-data, and
communicates the results. Proach and his partner, Kathryn Cromer,
moved from home offices to a space in the Weidel Real Estate office on
Lawrenceville’s Main Street last year. They have seven part-time
staffers at this office, plus a half-dozen employee-investors (Phds,
MDs, and PharmDs) working from remote locations. Currently they are
working in the antiviral area — anti-infectives and vaccines.
Proach grew up in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, where is father worked
for U.S. Steel. He graduated from New York University in 1975, worked
for Ted Bates advertising in Manhattan, Warner Lambert, and was
executive vice president of a medical book publishing company,
Churchill Communications NA, a division of Financial Times of London,
now owned by Elsevier. He started Triage in 2000.
“We help pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and medical
diagnosis companies globally to identify how they need to get market
access to be successful,” says Proach. “Ninety-eight percent of our
business is with major companies, not generic houses.” Clients include
Novartis and Hoffman LaRoche, and 65 percent of the total revenue is
international. “The balance are companies that create products, some
very small, with a technology that they want to license.”
Triage researchers use information available in the public domain,
information supplied by the client, and information obtained from
focus groups, round tables, or commercial market research. They work
on any stage of a product, whether it is in the pipeline, in clinical
trials, or when it is just a twinkle in somebody’s eye. “If a company
wants to be a player in a particular franchise, a therapeutic area,
such as infectious disease, we help them identify potential products,
what they need to do to get market access, what data they will need to
be successful,” says Proach.
Triage HealthCom LLC, 2681 Main Street, Lawrenceville 08648. John P.
Proach, principal. 609-219-0611; fax, 609-219-0613. Home page:
One pharmaceutical service firm, a medical publisher, is determinedly
staying off the web. Multimedia Healthcare Freedom LLC sends its
magazines to those who care for older patients, and it is not moving
its focus to the Internet. “It seems that the tried and true is still
working for us,” says CEO Robert Preston, who publishes two magazines,
the Annals of Long Term Care and Clinical Geriatrics.
Preston recently expanded his 23-person business from two buildings at
Princeton Meadows to take 4365 Route 1 South. Buzz Woodworth of Keller
Dodds helped Preston find the space.
The professional advertising market has been on a six year downward
slide, says Preston, because the pipeline of new drugs was clogged.
Without new drugs to tout, pharmaceuticals had less need to educate
doctors, and they began spending more money on direct to consumer
So last year was a tough year for healthcare publishing, and one of
Preston’s magazines, Home Health Care, has been folded into the Annals
of Long Term Care. But the early signs for this year show a recovery.
“We are teaming up with Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to launch a
publication for Alzheimer’s caregivers. To the AFA’s knowledge, no
such publication exists,” says Preston.
Preston majored in business at Montclair State, Class of 1977, and
started out selling ad space for the Paterson News. He has been in
healthcare publishing for more than two decades. Before taking this
job he had been group publisher in Montvale for Medical Economics
Thomson Healthcare in Montvale.
This company used to be part of what is now Intellisphere, Michael
Hennessy’s company at Princeton Meadows Office Center. It was partly
owned by Freedom LLC, a billion dollar, privately held company.
Freedom’s flagship publication is the Orange County Register. When
Freedom exercised an option to buy the company, the Intellisphere
division, which focuses on the Internet, was spun off as a separate
“We have no foot in the Internet space at all. Our website is a ‘value
added’ benefit for our readers,” says Preston. “We do dabble in CD
ROMs, meetings, and conferences but our core business is in print.”
Multimedia Healthcare/Freedom LLC, 4365 Route 1 South, Suite 250,
Monmouth Junction 08852. Robert W. Preston, CEO. 609-452-9200. Home
Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., 666 Plainsboro Road, Suite 210, Plainsboro
08536. Prasada Reddy Kambham, vice president. 609-716-1190; fax,
609-716-1142. Home page: www.aurobindo.com
This U.S. office of a generic drug manufacturer was founded in 1988
and is based in Hyderabad. One of its products is making its way
through the FDA approval process. Vice president Prasada Reddy Kambham
went to SV University in South India, Class of 1988, and has a
master’s from City University of New York.
A.L. Robinson Pharmaceutical Services Inc., 116 Village Boulevard,
Suite 200, Box 568, Monmouth Junction 08552-0568. Arthur Robinson,
president. 609-734-4350; fax, 609-734-4349. Home page:
Arthur Robinson has come back from the Kuwaiti desert to resume
building his pharmaceutical service business. Fortunately, he says,
the period from December, 2002, to June, 2003, when his Naval reserve
unit was called to active duty, was a slow period. So while he was
handling ammunition, his brother was able to keep an eye on his
Raised by a single mother and motivated, he says, by teachers and
librarians, Robinson has a chemical engineering degree from North
Robinson does pharmaceutical and chemical consulting — manufacturing,
environmental, health & safety, audits, employee training, and
distribution/courier services. He is also a notary public, and his
company is certified as a minority small business enterprise.
NOP World/Market Measures Cozint (UNEWY), 1060 State Road, Princeton
08540. Barry Zimmerman, CEO. 609-683-6333; fax, 609-683-6211. Home
The Bear Tavern Road office of Market Measure Cozint has moved to
State Road, joining another Market Measures office. Both are sectors
of NOP World, and Barry Zimmerman is the new CEO here. Now called NOP
World Health, this sector has about 40 employees here and 200 overall.
Cindy Blodgett, who was executive vice president of Market Measure
Cozint, is now executive vice president of NOP World Health, which
does research for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. Donna
Famoso also moved a Market Measures Cozint office. Hers was at Palmer
Square and is now in the State Road building, and she is now vice
president of a research team. The consumer sector of NOP was the
original tenant of the building. Until it was bought by Roper ASW, it
was known as Response Analysis.
Isis Research U.S./Synovate Healthcare, 2 Wall Street, Princeton
08540. Linda Levy, president. 609-688-0474; fax, 609-688-0435. Home
Isis Research has merged with Synovate Healthcare. It has 15 workers
in 3,700 square feet at Research Park. Based in London, and with more
than 200 employee worldwide, 15 in this office, it does pharmaceutical
Data Vision Research, 114 West Franklin Avenue, K19-3, Pennington
08534. Ronald Vangi, president. 609-818-1944; fax, 702-656-4112. Home
The database management firm moved from 2,300 square feet at Princeton
Service Center to a smaller office at the Straube Center. The phone is
Vangi majored in theoretical mathematics at Montclair State, Class of
1976, and opened the Princeton office of a Manhattan-based statistical
firm. He founded his own company in 1982 to specialize in database
management and marketing services such as survey tabulation. He opened
the Las Vegas office when he began getting high-tech clients from
For the marketing and survey research industries DVR does database
management, maintenance, and design, plus marketing services including
survey tabulation, data entry, coding, and scanning.
DVR also writes commercial and custom software applications for
database design. WinPrint, for instance, is a freeware product that
can be downloaded from Data Vision’s website. It is designed to print
wide text files such as Tabulation files in landscape mode. But Vanni
has closed the sister firm, Detail Technologies, that sold the
software. “Our plan is to have all the software back out by the end of
“The scope of the business changed, and most of us are working from
home,” says Vangi in an interview from Las Vegas. “You’ve got to go
with the flow, and the hot area seemed to be the web surveys.” Las
Vegas does the database services and the New Jersey office does web
Clinical Connexion, 6 Terry Drive, Newtown 18940. Susan Cohen,
president. 215-944-9400; fax, 215-944-9444. Home page:
Susan Cohen expanded her 35-person pharmaceutical communications firm
with a move from 3150 Brunswick Pike to Newtown, Pennsylvania. Founded
in 1999, the company is medical education agency does physician
advocacy and strategic marketing communications.
Pfizer, 973-541-5900; fax, 973-299-4588. Home page: www.pfizer.com
Forty people left the 7 Roszel Road office of Pharmacia when that
company consolidated with Pfizer last year. Many of them are now
working in Parsippany. “We are in the midst of an expansion program in
the Morris area,” says Paul Fitzhenry, spokesperson, “and we are
employing a lot of swing space, as we prepare to renovate the Morris
Corrections or additions?
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