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Perspectives on Unique Manufacturer Strategies

Posted by Matt Breese on Nov 17, 2015

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Pharmaceutical manufacturer strategies continue to evolve with the rapidly changing healthcare landscape. In order to adapt, providers, payers and patients reward innovative thinking from pharma. Additionally, transparency in drug promotion carries more weight than ever before. In a digital world, practitioners and patients expect greater and quicker methods of communication between all levels of healthcare.  Furthermore, highly managed classes often provide a great challenge for manufacturers to optimize the value of restricted access.

A case study on UCB Pharma’s social media strategy demonstrates how transparency positively impacts consumer adoption. UCB first started by deploying social monitoring to gain intelligence around adverse events for their products. Once they discovered the level of activity, both positive and negative, around their brands, they developed an integrated strategy around social. Today, they engage customers through a network of online communities where UCB executives thank patients for sharing their stories. Although one cannot easily measure exact ROI on social media investment, UCB reports a 25% increase in customer satisfaction since the inception of their social presence.

Specialty pharmaceuticals present a new challenge for the healthcare network. Drug prices continue accelerating upwards as the patient population increases for many highly managed classes. Standard marketing and reimbursement strategies continue to give way to unique programs launched by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Merck originally tested the market by offering installment payments for Hepatitis C treatments. Other international pharma players deploy similar strategies to ensure that as much of their patient base can afford life-saving medications as possible.

The consolidation of companies, from pharmaceutical manufacturers to payers to hospital systems, marks a major trend in corporate restructure for the past 20 years. A recent article via Pharma Exec draws attention to a slant on this strategy, called "prosolidation". Companies consolidate to cut spending and leverage a holding company for network promotion, but prosolidation builds upon that strategy by incorporating specialized, independent talent to work with the company. The nature of large conglomerates normally results in a system of checks and balances, where processes need to pass through a mountain of stakeholders. The concept of prosolidation introduces an independent external party, often with more agility and responsiveness to address the market landscape.

The continued innovation within healthcare fosters the development of highly specialized vendors designed to solve specific needs for manufacturers. Many pharma companies find great value in partnering with external agencies to leverage targeted resources to accomplish business goals. Specifically, the leveragability of digital and mobile agencies helps satisfy the modern consumer’s need for more interaction than ever before. The same strategy applies to physician engagement: A recent survey reveals that 75% of physicians do not trust information from pharma, although most use third party applications for their day-to-day activities. These applications and tools create an avenue for HCPs to build communities of peers and engage patients in more meaningful ways. Several pharmaceutical manufacturers seize the opportunity of these channels to get in front of doctors in new, less invasive ways.

As demand from the healthcare spectrum advances, pharma continues producing new strategies for payer, provider and patient engagement. Many of these innovative online strategies prove hugely impactful in improving consumer and provider relationships through the distribution of knowledge. Similar to environment of many other industries, patient-focused marketing continues to beat out older generation product-focused promotion.

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Topics: Industry Trends, Market Access