Rare-Disease Precision Marketing Follows Precision Medicine

Wendy White, SVP rare disease, Dohmen Life Sciences Services
Wendy White, SVP rare disease, Dohmen Life Sciences Services

Precision medicine has revolutionized the way we treat rare diseases, allowing us to create drugs customized for small groups of people who have unique medical profiles. But there is another revolution that is waiting to happen: one in how we get orphan drugs to patients who need them and help them stay on track with treatment. 

Let's call it precision marketing. Companies that succeed with orphan drugs will be those that can make the paradigm shift from traditional pharmaceutical marketing aimed at large disease populations to precision marketing focused on overall patient experience with a robust support program as the centerpiece. 

Even though patients stricken with rare diseases desperately need customized treatment, they have an equally urgent need for customized education, access and support. Meeting those needs while immersing patients in a positive brand experience across all touch points is the most direct route to acquisition, adherence and lifelong loyalty. 

But this immersive approach doesn't begin with product launch. It starts with the emotional bonds and trusted relationships companies build with these interconnected communities as early as clinical trials. Similarly, the approach doesn't end when the prescription is written. There is continuous value in fine-tuning the experience with data collected at each step of the patient's journey, combined with the patient's own feedback.

So what does precision marketing look like? Although no all-purpose plan for this next phase of marketing is guaranteed to succeed for every orphan drug, there are basic guidelines. 

It's unique to each community's needs: One-size-fits-all approaches to lifecycle management won't work. Rare communities are not just different; they are each different in their own way. If you're open to it, patients will be happy to tell you what they need and they'll be invested in the success of programs and resources they've co-created, so your resources will be shared. 

It's centralized: Rare disease patients and caregivers lead complicated lives and face huge medical, financial and social challenges, along with insurance hurdles and complex routes of administration. By funneling all interactions through one point of contact, you can simplify patients' and physicians' lives. 

It's data-driven: Integrating marketing, traditional hub and specialty pharmacy services to meet the unique challenges and opportunities of rare disease patients gives you a feedback loop to improve program offerings and alert you to adherence issues before they result in dropped patients. Eliminating redundancy will get you clearer data and better patient outcomes. And isn't that precisely what you want?

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