What's the RX for specialty meds?

Unmet need has turned pharma toward specialty meds. Yet every success reduces unmet need, raising the bar. In this landscape, how do you ensure that a small-audience drug has a compelling value proposition at launch?

Maureen Franco
CEO, partner, Cambridge BioMarketing

We live and breathe small-audience drugs in the rare disease space.  The value proposition is developed one-on-one, with the physician and with the patient. The patient connection is as important as the healthcare team connection. Value is created well beyond the safety and efficacy of the product—it is in every interaction with the patient and MD, live or social. It is superior and differentiated service, from reimbursement support and beyond. It is innovative access programs and the company's overall commitment to the disease and the space. Every touch point with these customers builds compelling value and differentiates the brand, on a personal level. This is where rare-disease commercialization already lives and where specialty and ultimately primary care are headed.

Ash Kuchel
Global group president, Publicis Healthcare ­Communications Group

As the unmet need reduces due to the success of other niche products in the category, compelling launch communications must be based around three things: credibility of the brand's unique benefit, customer interaction based on emotion, and targeted communication to set it apart.

Niche drugs do not warrant a broad-market approach, and communications should focus on the emotion behind these often difficult-to-treat categories and the brand's unique value proposition and benefit.

Efforts should focus on orchestrating simultaneous tactics. These include cost-efficient and targeted methods, an increased need for thought-leader support and endorsement to drive trial uptake and generate experience, and detailed payer and regulatory/ authority support.

Kate Booth
Vice president, strategy, LehmanMillet

The new dynamics demand the development of a multifaceted value proposition from the earliest phases of commercial development.

• Trial design: Designing protocols to ensure endpoints will be clinically relevant and differentiated when the product launches. This includes incorporating HEOR-related and PRO endpoints.

• Scientific rationale: Creating a platform that articulates how a new therapy fulfills an unmet need, then propagating across all channels: publication plan, medical affairs, public relations, and patient communications.

• Patient-centric approach: Engaging with patients, caregivers and advocates, and translating these conversations into meaningful actions: product refinements, access and support programs, and investment in communities.

Christopher Tobias, PhD
EVP, chief scientific officer, director of business development, Dudnyk

Each disease, no matter how rare, often has many unmet needs. The greatest challenge in healthcare marketing is to determine which unmet need is the most motivating. The danger with believing one product can fulfill several unmet needs is that then the product tries to be too many things to too many people. The optimal way to ensure a compelling value proposition is to dive deep into the research to determine what compelling evidence is available, then choose the most motivating reason to embrace the product for patients, and to articulate that idea as the answer to the greatest unmet need. 


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