According to Chris Savage, SVP of Global Strategy and North American Sales and Marketing at Inizio Engage, to ensure a successful commercial launch, emerging biotech need to explore and address five key questions that influence HCPs’ prescribing decisions.
New market players = new challenges
The questions below aren’t new but the answers have become more complicated as emerging biotechs proliferate and enter the market with a focus on underserved populations with rare and orphan diseases.
What has likely always been true but has become more clear recently is that there isn’t a “cookie cutter” strategy to a great launch; instead each biotech company must formulate its own “how” in addressing each of these five questions to drive success.
In many ways, by successfully addressing these questions, a biotech can create a decision cascade and checklist for an HCP to prescribe a new drug.
Five key questions
Do HCPs have an understanding of the disease state?
In the days of primary care blockbusters, driving awareness of a disease state was less of an issue but in the rare disease space, there are conditions that most doctors simply aren’t aware of because they may only see 1 or 2 patients with a disease in their career. Further, some economies may not have the healthcare infrastructure to educate physicians about the disease or have simple referral pathways that allow patients to access a specialist for diagnosis and care. For emerging biotech, finding patients is job one and ensuring HCPs have the tools to diagnose a condition is job two.
Do the HCPs understand the MOA of the product?
A sweeping truism is that emerging biotech are increasingly developing complex drugs with new and innovative technologies. In 2020 alone, more than half (55%) of novel drug and biological approvals were orphan drugs for rare diseases.* This means new, complex and unfamiliar mechanisms of action (MOA) that HCPs may not have engaged with previously and will therefore be unlikely to prescribe, indicating a need for education.
Does the HCP recognize the company providing a treatment?
This is incredibly relevant to emerging biotechs. There is a certain amount of trust and brand equity in established pharma and biotech companies which, rightly or wrongly, can engender trust. Therefore, it is critical for emerging biotechs to build awareness of their company, in a non-promotional manner, prior to the launch of a product.
Is it the ‘best’ product available for a specific patient?
Understanding where a product sits on the competitive landscape – its MOA, efficacy and price vs other therapies – will inform decisions around marketing messaging, sales rep activity and geographic distribution. While the focus on rare/orphan diseases may limit competition, it’s a vital consideration in areas where there is more competition – with the biosimilar market being an extreme example.
Will the patient get access to, and be able to stay on treatment once prescribed?
Even with regulatory approval, will the product be added to formularies? Will insurers pay out? Will patients be able to afford the drug? Will the patient be able to procure the medicine from their pharmacy once prescribed? Will the requisite programs be put in place to ensure a patient correctly utilizes the treatment? And finally, will the right programs be put in place to ensure that once a patient gets on therapy, they stay on therapy? In a competitive situation where HCPs have a choice, often trust in the infrastructure to support a patient may be the tipping point in which product an HCP chooses.
It takes time
Each HCP will navigate their way through these belief shifts at different speeds and leveraging different data sources. However, to ensure appropriate time for HCPs to move through the non-product-specific beliefs prior to launch, biotechs should begin exploring these questions 24-36 months prior to launch. This timing will allow for the creation and delivery of scientific education on disease state and MOA and build rapport between the HCP and their engagement team. Then, following launch, the engagement team can focus on helping the HCP understand which patient is best suited for treatment which will lead to improved patient outcomes and ultimately deliver a successful launch for the biotech.
Every product should have a sweet spot and every manufacturer needs to find it before they enter the market. Strategic commercialization partners, such as Inizio, are well-versed in helping them and developing and delivering strategies to communicate the information to HCPs.
Personalized experiences that deliver improved treatment outcomes.
Underpinned by best-in-class technology and advanced data and analytics, Inizio Engage partners with pharmaceutical clients to create impactful solutions for healthcare audiences including patients, payers, and providers, across all channels. Find out more here.