Marketing Continues Its Slow Ascent Towards the Pharma C-Suite

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pharmaceutical companies with a chief marketing officer are thin on the ground, but their number will shortly see a slight increase thanks to a new appointment at Pfizer.

The pharmaceutical company has recruited Andreas “Drew” Panayiotou from Verily, the life sciences business of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to the new role of biopharma global chief marketing officer.

He will join a short list within pharma of companies with a chief marketing officer, despite the job title – and the responsibilities it comes with – being commonplace within the consumer sector.

Companies that have so far gone down this route include BioMarin, Merck & Co, and Mundipharma. GSK’s consumer health spinout Haleon – officially launched in July – also sees a need for a chief marketing officer.

This elevation of marketing is a recognition of the ongoing imperative to improve pharma’s commercial operations. Companies that give marketing a more senior voice may also be better placed to respond to the industry’s post-pandemic digital challenges.

For its part, Pfizer also expects Panayiotou’s new role to help its “efforts to bring breakthroughs to patients.”, as it told Endpoints, and he will lead the building of the pharma company’s commercial infrastructure.

Panayiotou, who joins Pfizer on 19 September, will report to biopharma group president Angela Hwang, who said on LinkedIn that he would “help transform our customer engagement model and marketing excellence”.

She added: “It’s the perfect time to have such a seasoned and respected thought leader work with us.

“We’re passionate about getting our breakthroughs to patients and Drew’s insights and diverse thinking will help us elevate the cutting-edge customer channels, skills and capabilities we need to deliver against our purpose – breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”

Panayiotou’s 30-years of global marketing experience was earned at major consumer companies like Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Kodak and Johnson & Johnson, as well as at advertising agency BBDO.

As Endpoints picked up, Panayiotou also favors thinking about “patsumers”. The useful, though slightly awkward, portmanteau highlights an important shift for the industry as patients increasingly think like consumers.

Providing patients with a high-quality customer experience (CX) does have a number of health benefits, including in decision-making, disease management, and even treatment effectiveness.

However, research by DT Consulting has also shown that there’s still plenty of work to be done when it comes to engaging patients effectively. Currently, pharma channels perform poorly for patients and industry engagement fails to meet expectations.

Pfizer’s incoming chief marketing officer has a clear view on how to respond to these types of environmental shifts.

“I continue to believe the best way to meaningfully change healthcare is by empowering and engaging “patsumers”. Putting more tools in patients/consumer hands has amazing impact,” he wrote on LinkedIn earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Verily will not be looking to pharma to for Panayiotou’s replacement. Its new chief marketing officer Alix Hart has been with the Alphabet company since 2021.

Sign up to our latest insights

By checking this box, you agree to receive survey invitations and our latest insights.