4 Ways to Communicate the Value of Specialty Drugs

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Ross Toohey
president and CEO, 2e Creative

Let's get real: Today's marketers are in a tough spot when it comes to specialty pharma. Big paintbrush DTC campaigns are losing their luster, despite the fact that marketers will continue to chase them with billions of dollars. (That's a four-beer conversation, if you care to get me started). And the days of leaning exclusively on the sales channel to make specialty drug numbers are now in the rearview. The world has changed, and we all need to catch up.

The rise of targeted therapies and theology of personalized medicine has introduced an entirely new way of thinking about audience connection and message delivery. Marketers have less money to hit a larger number of patient groups, with more finite messaging. The stakes are higher too, with public attention and social media focus on pricing and clinical value.

The answer? First, get smart with clinical/economic value messaging. Specialty pharma's subject complexity requires well-informed HCPs and patients who are equipped to engage and educate patient communities. Second, get bold with content marketing and social media strategies designed to foster patient engagement and advocacy. Commercial organizations have been traditionally hesitant to explore tactics that carry additional administrative or regulatory complexity. Don't be afraid to make a compelling business case to senior management.

Khawar Khokhar
EVP, market access and B2B, Klick Health

The growth of specialty therapies requires an evolving value story supported by real-world outcomes data. Access is rarely the biggest hurdle for an FDA-approved specialty drug. The bigger challenges faced by marketers involve how the drug gets covered and what restrictions are put in place regarding its use.  

As a result, the most relevant tactics for marketers to consider are those that can help customers — both payers and prescribers — understand how their decisions are impacting patients. Crafting and communicating this type of value story requires that marketers equip their specialty drug teams with a data collection plan that enables the brand to demonstrate success in achieving positive health outcomes within targeted patient populations.

Deborah Lotterman
chief creative officer, precisioneffect

Whether we're talking to patients, providers, or payers, a deep understanding of the therapeutic agent, clinical landscape, and needs and aspirations of each audience is requisite. The cost structures and clinical evidence may be complex, but often the human story is simple.

Where once a rare disease devastated the lives of patients and families, a new drug entity (or a known one applied to a new need) can change everything. It's tangible and dramatic. The unmet need can be underscored with epidemiology and the efficacy with clinical data, but at the core the most powerful tactic is patient stories. Even with payers, we find that highlighting the human brings real resonance to the numbers. Video offers an immediate and compelling vehicle, but patient voices can sing as quotes on infographics or when paired with data animations they can drive home the life-changing value of innovations.

Kathleen Bonetti
EVP of marketing, Rx EDGE Pharmacy Networks

The most relevant tactics can emerge from listening to patient stories, which offer a number of revelations that are relevant to marketers of specialty brands. “Day in the life” narratives illuminate real experiences, humanize disease, and can help pinpoint the most effective marketing strategies across various channels.  

Marketers need to think about the role of a tactic in patients' everyday activities. Are they in the beginning stages, when they are coping with symptoms and unsure where to turn? Are they using OTC products to address unidentified pain? Have they already been diagnosed, started on a biologic, and are possibly concerned about side effects? Patients gather information at various stages and their needs continue to evolve as a condition unfolds. Communications about the value of specialty drugs can be delivered at all of these points.

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