To hear The Kinetix Group president Sarah McNulty tell it, 2018 was a “beautiful year” for the New York City-based agency. It saw revenue jump 6.5% over 2017 levels, from $15.4 million to $16.4 million. The company also hired two new employees, nudging the number of full-time staffers up to 65.

That growth is consistent with Kinetix’s pattern over the last few years, which McNulty attributes to a healthy mixture of organic growth from existing clients and the addition of new ones. Still, she also believes that Kinetix found itself in the right place at the right time.

Historically, the agency has primarily focused on the payer and market access segments of the healthcare industry. Pharma marketers, as you might have heard, have recently started to acknowledge the charms of just such an audience. More than ever before, McNulty says, pharmaceutical and biotech companies are realizing that payers and health systems are essential partners in a complex reimbursement landscape.

“It all kind of clicked in 2018,” she adds. “Pharma and health systems have realized there’s an appropriate marriage.” Thus Kinetix was able to “take those learnings” from its payer and health-system business “and apply them to what we do for pharma.” New additions along those lines included Eli Lilly and Ipsen.

At the same time, Kinetix expanded its capabilities to accommodate the crucial pre-launch commercialization model. The idea, McNulty explains, is to identify potential indications early in the drug developmental process, then build a community around those indications so that patients and providers are coalesced into one place once products are ready for commercialization.

Kinetix’s first foray into this world was around fatty liver disease nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which affects up to 4% of Americans. No drugs have been approved to treat NASH — yet — but the particular indication is at the center of a frothy drug development environment.

In anticipation of these launches, Kinetix created a center of excellence called NASHNET, which has buy-in from several leading physicians as well as pharmaceutical companies hoping to bring NASH drugs to market. NASHNET is also a space for patients to learn more about fatty liver disease and a place for payers to become educated on the indication to improve formulary decisions.

“For us, it’s putting the pieces together,” says McNulty. “There are going to be a lot of products that come out. And as these products come into play, NASHNET will help determine the right product for the right patient at the right time.”

Kinetix plans to replicate this model in other indications, with oncology and women’s health high on the agency’s wish list. “From a business development standpoint, the pre-launch commercialization model is another thing that will change our trajectory,” McNulty adds.