After his company nearly doubled its revenue in 2017, then president and cofounder Dan Bobear copped to worrying that the growth of the Patient Experience Project (PEP) might affect its culture, which prioritizes patients and caregivers as the experts on unmet needs and unanswered questions around rare diseases and gene therapies.
It was a priority to which Seth Gordon, the agency’s general manager, remained sensitive when he took over for Bobear. “This was Dan’s vision,” Gordon says. “He built the company and put it in a great position.”
But after that vision enabled PEP to scale up — from $7.4 million in 2016 revenue to $14.3 million in 2017 — Bobear was ready to relinquish his growing administrative responsibilities and the challenge of building out infrastructure to meet the company’s heftier needs. In April 2018, the private equity firm Water Street Partners acquired the agency, along with The Access Group, Dohmen Life Science Services and several other healthcare marketing companies. In October, they were brought together with JLL Partners to form holding company Eversana.
PEP’s upward trajectory continued through 2018. The agency generated $17.5 million in revenue — a 22.4% jump — and boosted head count from 50 to 65 full-time staffers.
Gordon says PEP has happily availed itself of the resources that come with being part of a larger organization. “We can tap into, for example, more than 500 clinicians and pharm.Ds,” he notes. “We’ve got other parts of the organization, such as management consulting, to conduct primary research. We’ve got really robust analytics.”
The Eversana affiliation has also expanded PEP’s geographic reach. Being part of Eversana allows easier access to work with clients near Palo Alto and La Jolla in California, Chicago, Manhattan, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Notable new accounts, which accounted for 40% of the agency’s growth last year, included medical education for Bausch, gene therapy education for Spark Therapeutics and Horizon Pharma’s cystic fibrosis drug Quinsair. Notable pre-existing accounts that saw growth in 2018 included Mallinckrodt (patient support services), AveXis (gene therapy education) and Horizon Pharma (Actimmune for chronic granulomatous disease, Ravicti for urea cycle disorders and Procysbi for cystinosis).
Beyond the added infrastructure and administrative resources, Gordon attributes PEP’s gains to its focus on co-creation for rare — and often difficult to pronounce, Gordon admits — diseases and therapies. “Oftentimes physicians have never seen another type of patient that may have one of these rare conditions, especially in rural areas,” he explains. “The resources we develop are for the community, by the community.”
In the months ahead, PEP will focus on maximizing its potential now that it has the larger organization’s resources at its fingertips. “This is the maiden voyage for Eversana,” Gordon says. “We’re on the cusp of significant growth. I think we’re marching to the same beat.”