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Finding Niches For Drugmakers

Inside Wall Street


Ever heard of "micro marketing?" It's a new strategy that has caught on among the major pharmaceutical companies, because of expectations that President Clinton will clamp down mn the cost of medicine.

Physicians already have started to take steps to prescribe the best and cheapest drugs by forming local purchasing committees that do research and establish buying guidelines. Here is where micro marketing comes in. The idea is that drugmakers need to know which drugs specific groups of physicians are prescribing in order to meet that demand. One result: Drugmakers are recognizing the need to curb prices.

One New York fund manager who is high on micro marketing has been buying into Pharmaceutical Marketing Services, which provides specific information that's useful in responding to this new trend in cost containment. The company's allure lies in its proprietary data base and computer technology that provides drugmakers with information about their customers' buying patterns. That helps focus their marketing strategy to specific targets.

As cost containment leads to new purchasing patterns, the need to monitor these changes becomes urgent, says analyst Susan Hirsch of Shearson Lehman Brothers. She notes that Pharmaceutical Marketing "is already the leading provider of managed-care information." In the red in 1991, the company will earn 80 a share in 1993 vs. 46 in 1992, estimates research director Barry King at Lanyi Research. He thinks the stock, at 15, is undervalued. GENE G. MARCIAL

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