Sunday, September 14, 2014

Q.: Is A 10 Per Cent Max. "Sales" Bonus Opportunity Going To Be Adequate -- To Sell Keytruda® -- In Melanoma?

At the outset, I'll suggest that this sales compensation incentive plan decision may well have been driven in large part -- by the compliance folks at Merck -- being appropriately conservative. [More on that, in the final paragraph after the pull-quote.] To the story, then:

One of our erstwhile anonymous commenters below asks an excellent question -- and I will take it as being an accurate characterization of Merck's current sales incentive plan, as the very same predicate facts have been discussed over at CafePharma during the last 60 or so hours.

Our commenter reports that Merck is only offering a maximum of 110 per cent normal sales bonus opportunity to the oncology reps selling Keytruda® -- at least on this initial narrow "non-responder" melanoma patient FDA approval, in the US. As my graphic would suggest, I think the monoclonal antibody largely sells itself (just lay out the clinical trial results to date). Moreover, it is (until BMS's Opdivo® [nivolumab] clears, here in the US) a monopoly product. Yep -- as a breakthrough -- hard to see how the biologic won't sell itself. And then I'd note that perhaps only 1,500 patients meet the current indicated protocol. No need to "beat the bushes" to find them. Their doctors will find Merck, and pronto. The are all facing very dire prognoses without Keytruda.

. . . .Anonymous said. . .

So the sales plan incentives for the program were announced internally today. The top of the heap 10% in sales max out at 110% of target. It looks like management is convinced this one will sell itself.

Another huge mistake.

September 12, 2014 at 10:53 PM. . . .

It may be -- I guess we shall see, when BMS prices and rolls out its incentives plan, relative to its Opdivo® (nivolumab) melanoma launch, here in the US, later this year. [Does anyone know how BMS has handled this -- as it launched -- in Japan, back in mid-summer 2014?]

In closing, I will observe that the LAST thing Whitehouse Station wants to deal with, in relation to its single best hope for a "turnaround" drug/biologic francheise, in oncology. . . is an enforcement proceeding/cease and desist order from FDA/DoJ/FTC. The compliance folks likely argued that -- a too generous maximum initial bonus opportunity might encourage the Merck reps in the field to actively promote to oncologist/prescribers "off-label". I think that mindset explains about 60 per cent of the "why" behind this initial sales compensation plan. Just my $0.02. Have a peaceful, sunny and joy-filled Sunday -- to one and all, of good will.

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