Otsuka People Talk
An interview with the man who had an idea to communicate with physicians differently and succeeded.
A Career in the Life Sciences
I majored in Biochemistry at university. When it came time to choose a career, I was positive I didn’t want to work in sales. At the time, however, it was hard to find a research position. I decided to join a pharmaceutical company because I knew I wanted to work in life sciences.
Promotion to Central Nervous System Area Manager
At first, I did promotional work for gastrointestinal drugs and antibiotics.
I would do tests to identify bacteria and find out what spectrum antibiotic would have what kinds of effects . . . things like that; being able to predict the results, and following the whole process through until the final results were obtained, with precision. I have always liked doing things systematically.
One day, I was told that I would be specializing in the central nervous system from that point on. At first, I thought that working on central nervous system drugs would not suit me, I suppose because I thought that mental illnesses are not so easy to quantify mathematically: in this field, treatment results vary widely depending on the patient’s condition and lifestyle, and it’s often the case that a drug you think should work based on the data doesn’t work. It might work really well in one patient, but not at all in another patient.
However, something happened that really grabbed my interest. I had been working on a new central nervous system drug that wasn’t really getting any traction and that wasn’t being received well by doctors. It turned out that there was a certain trick to how the drug had to be used, and that its benefits weren’t being realized when it was just used by doctors in the old way they were used to.
When I talked to the doctors about it, I discovered that there was a difference between the doctors who rated the drug highly and those who did not. The difference lay in how they were using the drug. When I started promoting the method of use that had been being used by the doctors who rated the drug highly, their patients started getting better, and I started getting excited about educating doctors how to use this drug.
This was exciting because it made me realize that if drugs are not promoted properly, they cannot be expected to fulfill their promise – that is, if the marketing is done properly, it is possible to change how doctors perceive the drugs.
I had personally discovered something that I was able to use to educate others and effect change, and I was able to see the results of my actions with my own eyes.