Patient-Centered Biopharma: Selling Health Rather Than Pills


Strategies for being patient-centered

To embrace a patient-centered culture, manufacturers of biopharmaceuticals must actively involve patients and their caregivers in the treatment process from start to finish. Fortunately, there are many possibilities for biopharmaceutical companies to evolve the existing model.

Building public trust means that companies put patients first. Companies can build trust by clearly communicating drug risk-benefit profiles, the drug development process and clinical trial results. One example is Pfizer’s initiatives to adopt a patient-centered culture. The company prioritizes the voice of patients by involving them in health policy making, mandating patient-public consultation prior to clinical trials, and providing them with high-quality treatment information.

Amid the industry sprinting for solutions, balancing patient privacy with understanding the different conditions from the data is critical. One solution is to partner with a common entity willing to invest and adequately manage all patient data, such as their treatments, lifestyle, adverse events, etc., while ensuring confidentiality and accountability. data compliance. Businesses also need to make sure people feel their data is in good hands. Generally, the government makes the general public uncomfortable when it is too involved in data management. Notably, patients may be reluctant to give their data to private companies if they think they will use it for selfish marketing intent. In such cases, a public-private partnership between the government and a private partner can effectively gain the trust of patients while obtaining integrated data for clinical research and outcomes.

Tailor medical treatment to individual patient genotypes with personalized medicine. Personalized medicine has shifted the role of biopharmaceutical companies from manufacturers to solution providers. This change has revolutionized healthcare structures and logistics functions, demanding better service and lower costs for patients for life-saving treatments. Additionally, this change requires an ecosystem of stakeholders and policy makers to encourage the widespread use of new tools and technologies. The regulatory process must evolve in response to advances targeted at smaller patient populations based on genetic profiles to accelerate adoption. In addition, policies and laws must be enacted to encourage innovative research and the adoption of new technologies.7

Reorganize the drug development prioritization processes. The primary business model of biopharmaceutical companies is to discover drugs that have a positive impact on health. In the past, the industry relied heavily on “me too” drugs to maintain profits. These drugs were cheaper and less risky to develop and had ready-to-use markets. From 1998 to 2003, more than three-quarters of the 487 drugs approved by the FDA were classified as having therapeutic qualities similar to one or more drugs already on the market. However, the industry has recently started to focus on drug development for patients with untreated and rare debilitating conditions.

In 2018, more than half of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) new drug approvals were for rare or orphan diseases. Of those 34 products, the FDA has approved 33 under the orphan drug designation – the highest number since the Orphan Drug Act was passed in 1984.8

Partnering with tech companies to extract real world data (RWD). Wearable devices are becoming a rich source of RWD for biopharmaceutical companies to create personalized treatment choices for patients. One example is Johnson and Johnson’s collaboration with Apple for an open listing on Heartline. ™ The health and tech giant designed this study to explore whether the iPhone Heartline Study app, paired with the EKG app (ECG) and irregular heartbeat notification on Apple Watch, could improve health outcomes. This combination aims to detect early atrial fibrillation (AFib) – an irregular heartbeat and the leading cause of stroke in the United States9 Such technology allows doctors and patients to monitor data in real time to understand their health and identify red flags.

Expand access to life-saving therapies through patient support programs. Manufacturers of biopharmaceuticals sponsor Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) to help underinsured or uninsured patients access drugs at low cost.ten Companies like Merck value these programs because they align with their long-standing values ​​and goals to put patients first.11 Companies can increase awareness of these programs to ensure that every eligible patient can access life-saving medicines.

Support clinical research with pricing based on health outcomes.The industry can show its commitment to patient health by offering drug prices or contracts based on real results. Outcome-based contracts offer buyers, such as insurers and healthcare systems, possible ways to improve value. Under such contracts, buyers pay more for a drug when it works and less when it doesn’t. This model creates a tiered pricing or rebate structure in which the manufacturer reimburses the payer a sum of money if a certain percentage of the population does not meet the threshold of results.

The industry is already seeing some early examples of some brands entering such performance-based contracts. Companies like Novartis and Gilead have already implemented results-based pricing for drugs like Entresto® and Harvoni®.12, 13

Patient-Centered: Steps Towards a Health-Centric Future

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s hard to predict the future of healthcare. However, the evolution of the biopharmaceutical industry towards prioritizing patients and focusing on health outcomes is becoming more prevalent. The industry’s record discovery of the COVID-19 vaccine has raised public perception. Going forward, the industry will be shaped by how it can continue to improve its image while improving the lives of patients.

The industry’s expertise lies in finding drugs that save lives. However, biopharmacy is not well positioned to leverage technology and data to improve health outcomes. Therefore, partnerships with tech companies become even smarter, as they are experts in collecting massive amounts of real-time data and extracting it for agile decision-making. Such partnerships can reinforce the industry’s focus on patient outcomes, enable solution innovation, and positively impact countless lives.

As the industry evolves to become more patient-centric, companies must embrace a culture of analytics to improve health outcomes, minimize costs, and transform their business operations.

Devesh Verma, Ph.D. is Director at Axtrie, leading the development of Axtria’s omnichannel customer engagement solutions. Rebecca Lorenzo, Marketing Associate at Axtria, is a Life Sciences Content Writer.


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