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Movers and Shakers of the Pharma Industry - David Mitchell

Movers and Shakers of the Pharma Industry - David Mitchell


David Mitchell is the Commercial Director at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a company that produces remedies for self-treatment available at pharmacies and supermarket stores.
Last Updated: 27-Aug-2010

Focus on: David Mitchell

Every week we will be providing a light hearted focus on the movers and shakers in the Pharma industry.  We will be quizzing them about their thoughts on e-business and its future in the industry, whilst also divulging some trivia about their personal lives.  David Mitchell is the Commercial Director at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a company that produces remedies for self-treatment available at pharmacies and supermarket stores, an area he feels will become ever more significant over the next few years. David answers our questions this week, giving us an insight into everything from his dubious golfing skills to his vision for the future of e-business in the industry.

1. Where and when did you start out in the industry?

I joined Janssen (a J&J company) as a GP Representative in March 1975. Before attending the interview I had no idea that it was possible to earn a living selling drugs to doctors. To be honest I was looking for a role with a decent salary and a company car! I loved the job and the industry from day one and have been with J&J ever since.

What advice would you give those just starting out?

Watch, listen and learn. Work hard, get involved and contribute to the best of your ability. Take every opportunity to meet opinion leaders and build a good network of contacts. Always stay positive, take change as an opportunity.

3. Can you tell us something about yourself and your background?


·        Where are you from? My father was an officer in the Royal Air Force. I was born in on an Air Force base and spent the first 10 years of my life living on various Air Force bases around the world before being packed off to a boarding school. 


·        What are your hobbies? My job is like a hobby because I enjoy it so much! I look forward to everyday; there is always something happening and new challenges to face. When not at work, I love being outside and enjoy gardening and walking. I follow all sports but particularly rugby and played well into my thirties. I have now found golf and play with some skill and lots of enthusiasm!


·        Where did you go to university?  Brookes


·        What did you study? English and Business Studies

4. If you had £10 in your pocket what would you spend it on?

Depends on the circumstances. If I was thirsty I would buy a drink, if I was hungry I would eat. If I had plenty I might give it away.

5. What has been your best job role so far?

Back in the early 80’s I was a Regional Manager for , and North East England. It was a new job and a new life as my family and I moved to from the South East. It was my first experience as a manager and I got a real buzz from seeing individuals and the team grow and develop.

6. Thinking about your current role, what do you enjoy most about it?

I enjoy the fast pace and the constant change in the market. Consumer Healthcare is going through a time of huge change. The government has recognised the importance of Self Care, pharmacists are moving to the front line of NHS primary healthcare. Consumers are more knowledgeable and more empowered. Many products have switched from POM to P, we switched the first, Imodium in 1974 and now we are particularly proud that we switched Zocor Heart-Pro, the worlds first OTC statin.     

7. And what are the downsides?

There really is nothing that I can think of.

What involvement do you have with e-business initiatives for your company?

We are a small but highly successful business. We aim to make our processes simple and efficient. This is achieved by the application of smart technology. I have implemented a bespoke OTC CRM system that has now rolled out across all our businesses in . I was one of the founders of CoMedis, an industry sponsored online business and information system aimed at community pharmacy.

Thinking about e-business, what are the main initiatives that your company is;


a.Currently involved in? We have excellent web sites for all our brands with on line purchasing facilities.  We are experts in e marketing to consumers. We maintain large databases with sophisticated techniques to best engage consumers to drive purchase and build customer loyalty 


b. Looking at for the future? We will continue to build and develop e-business solution to market our products to consumers. We will develop and implement smarter e-business solutions around our supply chain from warehouse to in store availability. I believe RFID tagging will have a big impact over the next few years.


In particular, are you and your company either actively involved in or looking at e-detailing? I am interested to examine the role of e-detailing to pharmacists. With their changing and expanding role at the forefront of NHS primary healthcare, pharmacists are hungry for information and knowledge but they have less and less time to see company representatives.


d.What kind of positive impact do you think e-detailing will have on;

                 I.      The industry? I am sure its impact

              with GPs will be significant. For years

              people have been saying the days of

              mass ranks of Territory Managers will

              come to an end. Well I believe that is

              beginning to happen. The ROI is

              getting more difficult to justify and the

              new ABPI rules will be the catalyst for

              significant change.

             II.      On your company specifically?  I

            am less certain of its impact on the

            OTC/pharmacy sector it would be

            interesting to conduct a few trial


And what do you feel are its limitations?


Availability of and access to broadband at a time and place that is convenient. Most community pharmacists do not have access during the working day; would they want to participate in e-detailing in the evening?

10. To finish off I’d like you to gaze into a crystal ball…


a.      What are your personal goals for the future? To help McNeil become the premier Consumer Healthcare company in the .


b.Where do you see the industry heading in the next 5 years? More consolidation both for industry and the trade, as I write this, J&J have announced the acquisition of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and Alliance Boots has been formed. More will follow.  Self Care will become increasingly important as the government encourage people to take responsibility for their own health. Pharmacy will become an important gateway to NHS primary care. 


c.In terms of pharmaceutical sales, what do you see the typical territory sales manager doing in 3 years from now? There will still be many (but far less than today) Territory Managers trying to gain access to a decreasing number of available GPs. There will be high attrition rates as TMs find it almost impossible to make the contact rates/sales required to achieve an acceptable ROI. A better, more acceptable and more efficient way to contact and influence healthcare professionals has to be found.