A survey of the multinational pharmaceutical firms awareness and practice of key opinion leader management
It is widely recognized by medical markets today that the leading healthcare practitioners and researchers have retained their position as the primary influence over who prescribes what and when. This is despite the rise of healthcare organizations (that have strict formalities) and the unreserved importance of direct to consumer marketing. Sadly though, careful management of relationship with opinion leaders too often had been neglected in favour of initiatives with more obvious immediate input e.g. broad based detailing and advertising campaigns. It is against this background that this study was formulated to seek to establish how key opinion leaders managemen~ .:is conceptualized and practiced by multinational pharmaceuticals marketers. This study sought to achieve the following objectives- determine the extent of awareness by the pharmaceutical firms of the role of key opinion leaders in advancing company objectives and to establish key opinion leaders management practice adopted by multi national pharmaceuticals firms. This study targeted all the 25-multi national pharmaceutical firms in Kenya, out of which 20 of them responded to the questionnaires submitted to them. Descriptive statistics, frequency and percentages were used to analyse the data. The findings indicated that whereas multi national pharmaceutical firms are aware of the value of opinion leaders to medical marketing, they lack clear definition of who key opinion leaders are as well as techniques of identification and recruitments. There is therefore need for marketing profession to build good key opinion leader management based on systematic and vigorous methods of key opinion leader identification, appropriate recruitment techniques and establishment of long-term relationship of mutual trust build on integrity and continuity.