Vietor has Left the Building
On November 18, 2003, former pharmaceutical stock analyst Dick Vietor gave what will likely be his final address to the PMCQ.
Vietor, who had been a very popular speaker every year until his retirement from investment giant Merrill Lynch, had not graced the Dorval Hilton with his presence since 2000.
This time around, Vietor explained that his talk would be different from previous visits. Now a consultant for the Internet-based medical information service WebMD, Vietor explained that the only companies he could insult "are not clients of WebMD." Those in attendance, many of whom had grown used to Vietor's witty verbal jabs at all but a choice few companies, seemed disappointed by the remark.
Vietor also explained how the explosive growth and subsequent bursting of the tech bubble had fundamentally changed the role of the stock analyst. During the tech craze, he said, stock analysts became "rock stars" and "sold their reputations for the money".Since then, the legality of stock analysis has changed, with the advent of disclosure regulations. "Don't listen to analysts," Vietor advised. "They're not allowed to have insight anymore. Use your own counsel and be very careful of who you listen to-including me."
Instead of scribbling down stock tips, therefore, those in the audience put down their pens and listened to Vietor's take on the role of the Internet in the future of pharmaceutical marketing.
While he explained that the Internet provides nearly unlimited potential to get their marketing messages to physicians and patients, "drug companies are behind the curve". Pharma companies, he pointed out, spend less than 1% of their budgets on Internet-less than the amount spent on radio ads or billboards.
He did, however, say that some firms (Eli Lilly, Wyeth, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca) were better than others at using the Internet to promote their products. When asked what the biggest challenges are facing today's pharmaceutical industry, Vietor emphasized the need for management to break out of their old-fashioned ways and keep up with the times, to reduce the costs associated with bringing a drug to market and to build stronger pipelines.
Following his talk, Vietor informed the crowd that while he has enjoyed his visits to Montreal over the years, he would not likely be returning to speak at future PMCQ events.
By Scott Moffatt
Pharm Team Communications