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Joint leaders of the pack

Abbott and Roche lead the pack for rheumatologists in the latest medeConnect survey

A close-up of the faces of two lionsRheumatologists are the fifth of the speciality doctor groups to have been surveyed by medeConnect Healthcare Insight - part of the group. This Doctor Monitor feature provides key insights into the respondents' opinions on pharmaceutical companies, key brands, representatives, education and meetings.

This survey, conducted in June 2010, targeted 75 senior grade rheumatologists.

This article presents some key findings.

Companies you trust 

Q1: Which pharmaceutical company do you trust the most?
1 Abbott  19%
2 Roche 16%
3 Wyeth 15%
4 Schering-Plough 11%
5 Lilly 4%
  None of these (31 possible companies) 8%

Rheumatologists were shown a total of 31 pharmaceutical companies (with rheumatology products) and were asked to choose which company they trusted the most. Because of the large number of potential answers, there was a wider scope of responses compared with previous surveys in this area.

The results were excellent for Abbott: with 19 per cent of the votes, it was ranked the most trusted pharmaceutical company in the field of rheumatology. Roche was a close second, achieving 16 per cent of the vote. Interestingly, 8 per cent of respondents declined to choose a company they 'trusted the most' at all.

Educational materials from pharma companies

Q2: Which pharmaceutical company provides you with the most helpful educational materials?
1 Roche 28%
2 Abbott  24%
3 Wyeth 16%
4 Schering-Plough 11%
5 Pfizer 4%
  None of these (31 possible companies) 7%

The second question provided a win for Roche: 28 per cent of rheumatologists selected it as the company providing the most helpful educational materials. This impressive score reflects the significant effort Roche has made to provide quality educational materials. Taking almost a quarter of the vote, Abbott came a close second to Roche, with Wyeth in third with 16 per cent. Now that Pfizer (ranked fifth this time) has acquired third-spot Wyeth's portfolio, it will be interesting to monitor how positions are affected in future surveys.

Pharmaceutical company recommendation 

Q3: If asked, would you recommend this pharmaceutical company to a colleague?
Company Percentage based on "promotor" scores of 8,9 or 10 out of 10
1= Abbott  41%
1= Roche 41%
3 Wyeth 35%
4 Schering-Plough 25%
5 Pfizer 23%

As this question did not offer 'none of these' as a possible answer, the rheumatologists were required to give information based on 'likelihood to recommend'. Scores of 8, 9, or 10 were classified as "promoter" scores, where doctors are defined as likely to recommend the company.

Abbott and Roche are joint leaders of this list with very impressive scores of 41 per cent apiece. Again, however, the combination of Wyeth and Pfizer could change things significantly in the months to come.

Although this survey was quantitative research, it would be interesting, as a follow up to question 3, to find out whether the response scores are the result of volume of calls and awareness.

Satisfaction with clinical experience of products

Q4:  Please rate your satisfaction with your clinical experience with the product
Product Mean score based on rheumatologist response
1= Humira (Abbott) 4.7
1= Enbrel (Wyeth) 4.7
3 MabThera (Roche) 4.4
4 Aclasta (Novartis) 4.3
5 Remicade (Schering-Plough) 4.1

Eleven major rheumatology products were included in question 4 and rheumatologists were asked to rate each product. There was also an option for them to enter 'not familiar enough to rate this product'. The score was calculated from the doctor responses of: very satisfied (5) through to very dissatisfied (1), with five options in total.

Abbott's Humira and Wyeth's Enbrel are joint occupants of the top spot. However, in this case, the clinical experience scores for all products were very close, illustrating little difference between the products, based on the rheumatologists' feedback.


Satisfaction with representatives 

Q5:  Please rate your satisfaction with the product representatives of each of the following products
Product Mean score based on rheumatologist response
1= Humira (Abbott) 4.3
1= Enbrel (Wyeth) 4.3
3 MabThera (Roche) 4.2
4= Remicade (Schering-Plough) 4.0
4= Adenuric (Menarini) 4.0

As with the previous question, again the top five are very close in score, with Humira (Abbott) and Enbrel (Wyeth) tied for first place. Adenuric (Menarini) storms in to joint fourth place, tying with Remicade (Schering-Plough): this is no mean feat considering Adenuric is in its first year of launch.

Once again the closeness of the scores shows little differentiation among product representatives judged on 'overall satisfaction'. As with the previous question, the score was calculated from the doctor responses of: very satisfied (5) through to very dissatisfied (1), with five options in total. Interestingly, the top three products/companies in this question mirror the order of the question above, which related to clinical experience with product.


Representatives with the best clinical understanding 

Q6:  Which representatives have the best clinical understanding?
Product Mean score based on rheumatologist response
1 Humira (Abbott) 0.96
2 Enbrel (Wyeth) 0.92
3 MabThera (Roche) 0.89
4 Remicade (Schering-Plough) 0.60
5 Cimzia (UCB) 0.24

In question 6, rheumatologists were asked to rank their top three choices from the list of eleven products, so that if a product is chosen first it scores three, if chosen second scores two and if chosen third scores one. The scores were then calculated based on the sum of the scores for each product divided by the entire base of respondents. This ensures that the mean scores do not over-value products whose representatives are highly rated only by a very small number of doctors.

Humira scores highest and Enbrel secures second place. Interestingly, although the top three are quite close, there is a significant gap between positions three and four, which is even greater between four and five.


Likelihood to attend company sponsored meetings 

Q7:  Which product sponsored meeting are you most likely to attend?
Product Score based on rheumatologist response
1 RoActemra (Roche) 29%
2 MabThera (Roche) 18%
3 Cimzia (UCB) 11%
4 Adenuric (Menarini) 10%
5 Enbrel (Wyeth) / Stelara (Janssen Cilag) 8%

Rheumatologists were asked to make one selection for this question. Roche's two key rheumatology products (RoActemra and MabThera) stole the show, taking the top two slots with an overwhelming percentage of the votes. Enbrel (Wyeth) didn't fare quite so well in this poll, coming joint fifth with Janssen Cilag's Stelara.

Surprisingly, Humira (Abbott) isn't even a top five contender, coming in seventh with a score of just 3 per cent. Having scored so highly in all other categories, this particular low score suggests a problem with either the quality or quantity of sponsored meetings offered. Qualitative research could uncover which of these is the case. 

Overall findings
Abbott are vying for the top slot with Roche in most of the areas surveyed, with no one company showing complete dominance overall. Roche's clear popularity with rheumatologists seems due to the educational resources and meetings the company provides, which also has the effect of making it a 'highly trusted' company. Wyeth came third overall on trust in the company and most helpful educational materials.

In terms of products, Humira (Abbott) scores highest for representative satisfaction and product satisfaction. Enbrel (Wyeth) has been a strong contender throughout, matching Humira (Abbott) on satisfaction of clinical experience.
Only time will tell if the Pfizer takeover of Wyeth will change the rheumatology landscape dramatically.

The Author
If you would like more information on this survey or on, please contact Marie Pickford, client services director,
Email: or call: +44 (0)7824 412539.

To comment on this article, email

2nd September 2010


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