Drugmakers overhaul the sales pitch amid coronavirus lockdowns

Eli Lilly plans to make a newly approved cancer drug available within days—and to spread the word by having sales representatives email doctors and set up remote meetings with slide presentations. In addition, it will run ads promoting the new medicine on websites aimed at health care professionals.

Eli Lilly plans to make a newly approved cancer drug available within days—and to spread the word by having sales representatives email doctors and set up remote meetings with slide presentations. In addition, it will run ads promoting the new medicine on websites aimed at health care professionals. "We have a responsibility to make sure we inform doctors, given that cancer is not going to take a break" during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Eric Dozier, vice president of North American oncology for Lilly. The virtual drug launch is a major shift from the industry's longtime sales and marketing approach. Before the coronavirus, an FDA drug approval sent sales reps fanning out across the United States to tout the benefits of a product physicians might not know about otherwise. Drugmakers have ordered reps to remain at home due to the new coronavirus, while at the same time, hospitals and doctor's offices have barred visitors to minimize the spread of the virus. Veeva Systems Inc. has seen a surge in use of the software it sells to drug companies to facilitate online interactions with doctors. In April, companies conducted more than 316,900 remote meetings with doctors and sent about 7 million emails to them globally, compared with 4,900 remote meetings and 1.2 million emails in January, according to Veeva.