When Ahnal Purohit founded Purohit Navigation 30 years ago, her focus — which was unusual for the era — was on better understanding patient and HCP behaviors in order to foster change. That approach has carried the agency forward and, years later, remains central to its mindset.

Purohit Navigation president Anshal Purohit believes the behavioral focus has become a must-have for clients, as opposed to the nice-to-have it once was. “Understanding behavior drives the changes that clients are always asking for when they are putting forth a new modality or a new product,” she explains.

Coming off a down year — the agency saw revenue decline from $20 million in 2017 to $19 million in 2018 —Purohit Navigation spent 2019 bulking up its strategy and analytics offerings. It simultaneously expanded the scope of its capabilities, adding early stage/pre-commercial work to its capabilities mix.

As it executed this pivot, revenue and head count were flat in 2019 at $19 million and 50 full-timers, respectively. However, the firm’s president notes that business started to surge anew at the start of 2020 as clients started to embrace the agency’s expanded offerings.

“We’re working with a lot of companies who are pre-commercial in the indication analysis stage, for example — companies in stealth mode as well as companies that are looking at how and when they should come to market, and with what,” she says. “We’re helping them analyze the clinical and behavioral marketplaces, and find opportunities for product candidates.”

By way of example, the exec references the agency’s recent work with Napo Pharmaceuticals. The company’s HIV compound had been on the market for a while, which prompted Purohit to suggest exploring potential new indications. “We’ve been focusing on helping them rebrand their efforts in the HIV space and looking at opportunities outside HIV,” she notes.

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Purohit Navigation has also expanded the scope of its strategy offering. “We’re working with clients on global pipeline strategy. We’re managing existing products in new markets and optimizing them in others,” Purohit continues. “We’ve always done this kind of work, but now we’ve formalized it and put someone in place to manage that part of the business.” That someone is Jen Clark, newly promoted into the role of VP, strategic development.

Even as the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted nearly all facets of business and life, Purohit Navigation has taken on new roles and responsibilities. By way of example, Purohit points to the agency’s ongoing engagement with healthcare crowdfunding platform Bioverge, for which it is handling “deal flow” as well as customer acquisition strategy, messaging strategy and branding.

“The work has been a really fun departure for us,” she adds.

Other 2019 work included efforts on behalf of Gilead Sciences (on its global HPV franchise), Global Blood Therapeutics (on patient education initiatives around sickle cell disease) and Acella Pharmaceuticals (on patient engagement strategy and communications for its natural thyroid drug).

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

Emilio Ribas Medical Lab’s Human Masterpiece. This campaign shows the juxtaposition of a microscopic diagnostic view of the human body layered onto a painted masterpiece of art, with the microscopic sliver view creating a quick and emotional connection to the beauty of human life. We found this ad series unique, ownable and memorable. — Anshal Purohit