It is a truism, now, that prescribers want to have clear details about the outcomes of new therapies they might prescribe; the same is true for payers putting drugs on formularies. But it is also a trend, now, for patients themselves to be keyed on the outcomes of products that might be offered to them, according to a new Accenture market study. That should change how pharma companies launch their products, but it’s not happening quickly or broadly enough, says Jim Cleffi, managing director, life sciences, at the firm.
The Accenture study of 8,000 screened respondents, in the US, the UK, France and Germany shows that less than a third of respondents put “brand” at the top of their list of influences; more than 2/3rds rank the benefits of the drug as a dominant factor. Brand loyalty—so important to keeping patients on a specific therapy—is a top factor for only a quarter of respondents; other factors, such as physician recommendations, affordability and lifestyle maintenance, are more important.
“For the past few decades, the drug launch playbook has been ‘build a sales team; train them; and start a direct-to-consumer advertising campaign,’” says Cleffi. “No one gets fired for sticking to the traditional playbook.” Now, however, there is a growing need for educating consumers on health outcomes, and, for specialty products, informing them about support services to help them navigate complex health system requirements.
Another part of the study looked at generational differences, and a key distinction shows up between baby boomers (now in or approaching retirement age) and millennials. While 81% of boomers adhere to a doctor’s recommendation (and 64% of millennials), 41% of millennials are influenced what they hear from their peers on social media (and only 21% of boomers are so influenced). If nothing else, these data point to the need for going beyond TV advertising campaigns and working closely in online communities.
“Health literacy”—a measure of how well informed patients are of diseases and health conditions, as defined by scholarly studies cited in the Accenture report—is relatively low in the US but considerably higher in European countries, and this is a factor in product launch and product life cycles. Higher health literacy corresponds to better health outcomes and, according to an earlier Accenture study (“Lost in Translation—the Communication Gap in Patient Services,” cited here), US patients look to pharma companies for this education, creating a key opportunity for the industry.
The Accenture study, “Product Launch: The Patient Has Spoken,” is available here.