Making medicine with integrity
Eli Lilly president Deirdre Connelly describes her company's approach to establishing a dialogue between patients and physicians.
When I was growing up in Puerto Rico, whatever the doctor prescribed was what I would take - without discussion. That's changed. Patients are increasingly responsible for the cost, and they're well-informed thanks to the Internet, so their role in the decision-making process is more prominent. That's why we need to ensure that both patients and physicians understand the value of our medicines.
For example, we recently launched an anti-depressant called Cymbalta. There are symptoms of depression that may not be obvious, so we invested in educational efforts to talk directly to consumers about these symptoms without mentioning the product. The goal was to have people who were suffering identify themselves so they could go to their doctor.
Then we went to the physicians to discuss the benefits of our medication, and only afterwards we spoke to the consumer directly with a branded ad. That way, we're allowing for an informed conversation to occur between patients and their health care provider.
In our industry, there are a lot of regulations, and appropriately so, about how we talk to consumers. As we look to the future, it's important that we respond to patient needs - and market pressures - with integrity. People depend on us. --Interviewed by Eugenia Levenson