The pharmaceutical industry is facing great changes in the marketplace it is trading in, which has huge implications for its future. There are six major healthcare trends we have seen which are forcing these changes, and these are:

  • Changing patient needs
  • Focus on prevention rather than treatment
  • Growth of markets in the developing world
  • Healthcare Policy Makers having an increasing influence on what doctors prescribe
  • Pay-for-performance of medicine is on the rise
  • The soaring burden of chronic disease

Pharma marketing in the past has relied heavily on sales representatives but there has been a backlash against this from many healthcare workers, who have felt that too much of their time was being taken up dealing with sales reps and promotional mailings (similar to how many people feel about adverts online). There was also a growing issue of ‘irresponsible marketing’ which led to the World Health Organisation passing a resolution banning “inaccurate, misleading or unethical promotion of medicines.”

The other barrier in the way of successful marketing campaigns for pharma companies is the fact that only New Zealand and the United States allow direct-to-consumer advertising, although the European Commission is currently considering a proposal to lift this ban.

So, as we can see, there is a problem with the current sales and marketing model for the pharma industry, but how can pharma companies use the trends we have identified above to redefine their marketing strategy?

Develop a plan for marketing specialist therapies

There has been a definite shift towards specialist therapies in healthcare and pharma industry in the past few years, which has further emphasised the importance of marketing and selling. Many pharma companies are still using the outdated marketing and sales model they are used to, which is based on primary-care products, rather than adapting their model to suit their new products and the changing market.

Now that pharma companies are marketing specialist therapies, they need to take into account the fact that these therapies are very different from conventional medicines and so they need to be marketed in a different way. They are usually prescribed by specialists rather than GPs.  Pharma marketers, therefore, need to understand the risks and benefits of the therapy clearly, and they need to be able to communicate these to a well-informed audience. This target audience will tend to be on the smaller side too as the focus will be on treating specific disease subtypes, and this may mean that budget will need to be spent on patient education and monitoring.

An example of how to do this successfully can be seen through our work with BBI, supporting them to bring their new product to market. We focused on helping them to create a ‘movement’ around biometric sensing technology, raising product awareness, dispelling myths, and positioning them as a thought leader in this area – all of which ultimately helped to drive product sales. Our BBI Case Study goes into more depth on how we worked with them to achieve this.

Form alliances to allow the offering of support services

In the future, just developing medicines won’t be enough for pharma companies to sustain their business, they will have to think about offering support services for these medicines as well. This is where health management comes in, with compliance programmes, exercise facilities, health screening, nutritional advice and so on being offered. Companies who produce medicine to help combat diabetes, for example, will be expected to be experts in the area of diabetes and offer a range of solutions to help defeat the disease.

Some pharma companies may have the expertise inhouse already to offer these services, but we predict that many will need to form alliances with other providers to offer a healthcare package that patients can then tailor to their own needs. Becoming a health management provider rather than a pharma company will no doubt present a few challenges, but the benefits are worth it. These benefits could include building a stronger brand, closer relationships with patients and increased revenue.

Investment in medicine development          

We talk a lot about pharma companies working more closely with both healthcare providers and payers, and this is really important when it comes to the area of medicine development. The information that healthcare payers and providers can furnish them with should mean that the medicines that are developed in the future, are medicines that the market actually wants to buy.

In the past, pharmaceutical companies have tended to not look too deeply at the healthcare payers’ thoughts during the research and development process, which has led to a lack of truly innovative products in the pharma space. The only way to combat this is for pharma companies to work closely with healthcare payers and providers to identify innovative solutions to healthcare issues so that they can focus on developing the ones that are commercially promising.

This will also have an impact on the companies that supply services to these pharma companies, such as our client Manchester Biogel. Manchester Biogel have developed an innovative technology which enables them to provide pharma companies with the most suitable materials for their cells’ needs – opening up exciting opportunities with the fields of 3D cell culture. As pharma companies develop different medicines, Manchester Biogel will be able to tune their offering to create a bespoke Peptigel for them.

Recognise the new relationship between healthcare and pharmaceutical value chains

A value chain is a name given to the activities a company carries out to add value to their product in order to be able to command a premium price for it, and marketing has a large part to play in this. If we take a look at the value chains for a pharmaceutical company, a healthcare payer and a healthcare provider, we can see that they are interdependent albeit different:

  • Pharmaceutical value chain: finance raising, research, development, manufacturing and distribution, and marketing and sales
  • Healthcare payer value chain: finance raising, cover provision, medical services management, and bill payment
  • Healthcare provider value chain: Analysis of population at risk, prevention, primary care, secondary and tertiary care, and long-term care

The interdependence comes about because none of them can do their job properly without the help of the others. The value pharma provides all depends on them getting access to the patients that the healthcare providers serve, and the income from the healthcare payers who fund the providers. Healthcare payers’ value depends on practices and the policies of the healthcare providers, and the healthcare providers’ value depends on the medicines that pharma companies produce and the revenues that healthcare payers raise.

This means that pharma companies would do well to work on creating dynamic relationships with both healthcare payers and healthcare providers, to reduce the cost of care whilst raising the quality.

Create a marketing function fit for the future

All of the changes we have talked about above will have a massive impact on the way pharmaceutical marketing is conducted, not least because the focus on specialist treatments will require education programmes to help keep medical professionals and doctors abreast of the latest medical developments. There will also be a requirement for continuous budgetary spend, rather than a big blowout launch – and then nothing, as medicines will be continuously developing and so relevant information will need to be released in a series of waves.

This means there needs to be more focus on the pharma brand rather than the individual medicine, as medicines no longer have long-term sustainability. Treatments are constantly evolving and being rendered useless due to rival products being developed. Therefore, pharma companies need to ensure they have built a strong brand for themselves that they can sustain, and one that patients and healthcare providers value.

For example, we recently worked with Gentronix to refresh their brand in order to reflect their developing multi-service offerings. Beginning with the creation and successful running of two brand workshops, our end to end process meant that we were able to develop their brand identity and feed it into both creative and digital streams.

Conclusion

If pharma is to effectively use marketing in the future, it needs to create a new marketing and sales model which reflects the changing global healthcare landscape. Pharma companies will need to work with people who have the expertise needed to build brands, and communicate with both specialists and patients.

 

Pharma Marketing: What Does the Future Hold?

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The pharmaceutical industry is facing great changes in the marketplace it is trading in, which has huge implications for its future. There are six major healthcare trends we have seen which are forcing these changes, and these are:

  • Changing patient needs
  • Focus on prevention rather than treatment
  • Growth of markets in the developing world
  • Healthcare Policy Makers having an increasing influence on what doctors prescribe
  • Pay-for-performance of medicine is on the rise
  • The soaring burden of chronic disease

Pharma marketing in the past has relied heavily on sales representatives but there has been a backlash against this from many healthcare workers, who have felt that too much of their time was being taken up dealing with sales reps and promotional mailings (similar to how many people feel about adverts online). There was also a growing issue of ‘irresponsible marketing’ which led to the World Health Organisation passing a resolution banning “inaccurate, misleading or unethical promotion of medicines.”

The other barrier in the way of successful marketing campaigns for pharma companies is the fact that only New Zealand and the United States allow direct-to-consumer advertising, although the European Commission is currently considering a proposal to lift this ban.

So, as we can see, there is a problem with the current sales and marketing model for the pharma industry, but how can pharma companies use the trends we have identified above to redefine their marketing strategy?

Develop a plan for marketing specialist therapies

There has been a definite shift towards specialist therapies in healthcare and pharma industry in the past few years, which has further emphasised the importance of marketing and selling. Many pharma companies are still using the outdated marketing and sales model they are used to, which is based on primary-care products, rather than adapting their model to suit their new products and the changing market.

Now that pharma companies are marketing specialist therapies, they need to take into account the fact that these therapies are very different from conventional medicines and so they need to be marketed in a different way. They are usually prescribed by specialists rather than GPs.  Pharma marketers, therefore, need to understand the risks and benefits of the therapy clearly, and they need to be able to communicate these to a well-informed audience. This target audience will tend to be on the smaller side too as the focus will be on treating specific disease subtypes, and this may mean that budget will need to be spent on patient education and monitoring.

An example of how to do this successfully can be seen through our work with BBI, supporting them to bring their new product to market. We focused on helping them to create a ‘movement’ around biometric sensing technology, raising product awareness, dispelling myths, and positioning them as a thought leader in this area – all of which ultimately helped to drive product sales. Our BBI Case Study goes into more depth on how we worked with them to achieve this.

Form alliances to allow the offering of support services

In the future, just developing medicines won’t be enough for pharma companies to sustain their business, they will have to think about offering support services for these medicines as well. This is where health management comes in, with compliance programmes, exercise facilities, health screening, nutritional advice and so on being offered. Companies who produce medicine to help combat diabetes, for example, will be expected to be experts in the area of diabetes and offer a range of solutions to help defeat the disease.

Some pharma companies may have the expertise inhouse already to offer these services, but we predict that many will need to form alliances with other providers to offer a healthcare package that patients can then tailor to their own needs. Becoming a health management provider rather than a pharma company will no doubt present a few challenges, but the benefits are worth it. These benefits could include building a stronger brand, closer relationships with patients and increased revenue.

Investment in medicine development          

We talk a lot about pharma companies working more closely with both healthcare providers and payers, and this is really important when it comes to the area of medicine development. The information that healthcare payers and providers can furnish them with should mean that the medicines that are developed in the future, are medicines that the market actually wants to buy.

In the past, pharmaceutical companies have tended to not look too deeply at the healthcare payers’ thoughts during the research and development process, which has led to a lack of truly innovative products in the pharma space. The only way to combat this is for pharma companies to work closely with healthcare payers and providers to identify innovative solutions to healthcare issues so that they can focus on developing the ones that are commercially promising.

This will also have an impact on the companies that supply services to these pharma companies, such as our client Manchester Biogel. Manchester Biogel have developed an innovative technology which enables them to provide pharma companies with the most suitable materials for their cells’ needs – opening up exciting opportunities with the fields of 3D cell culture. As pharma companies develop different medicines, Manchester Biogel will be able to tune their offering to create a bespoke Peptigel for them.

Recognise the new relationship between healthcare and pharmaceutical value chains

A value chain is a name given to the activities a company carries out to add value to their product in order to be able to command a premium price for it, and marketing has a large part to play in this. If we take a look at the value chains for a pharmaceutical company, a healthcare payer and a healthcare provider, we can see that they are interdependent albeit different:

  • Pharmaceutical value chain: finance raising, research, development, manufacturing and distribution, and marketing and sales
  • Healthcare payer value chain: finance raising, cover provision, medical services management, and bill payment
  • Healthcare provider value chain: Analysis of population at risk, prevention, primary care, secondary and tertiary care, and long-term care

The interdependence comes about because none of them can do their job properly without the help of the others. The value pharma provides all depends on them getting access to the patients that the healthcare providers serve, and the income from the healthcare payers who fund the providers. Healthcare payers’ value depends on practices and the policies of the healthcare providers, and the healthcare providers’ value depends on the medicines that pharma companies produce and the revenues that healthcare payers raise.

This means that pharma companies would do well to work on creating dynamic relationships with both healthcare payers and healthcare providers, to reduce the cost of care whilst raising the quality.

Create a marketing function fit for the future

All of the changes we have talked about above will have a massive impact on the way pharmaceutical marketing is conducted, not least because the focus on specialist treatments will require education programmes to help keep medical professionals and doctors abreast of the latest medical developments. There will also be a requirement for continuous budgetary spend, rather than a big blowout launch – and then nothing, as medicines will be continuously developing and so relevant information will need to be released in a series of waves.

This means there needs to be more focus on the pharma brand rather than the individual medicine, as medicines no longer have long-term sustainability. Treatments are constantly evolving and being rendered useless due to rival products being developed. Therefore, pharma companies need to ensure they have built a strong brand for themselves that they can sustain, and one that patients and healthcare providers value.

For example, we recently worked with Gentronix to refresh their brand in order to reflect their developing multi-service offerings. Beginning with the creation and successful running of two brand workshops, our end to end process meant that we were able to develop their brand identity and feed it into both creative and digital streams.

Conclusion

If pharma is to effectively use marketing in the future, it needs to create a new marketing and sales model which reflects the changing global healthcare landscape. Pharma companies will need to work with people who have the expertise needed to build brands, and communicate with both specialists and patients.