Will price wars destroy the possibility of a Patient Sales Force & Patient-centricity?

By July 27, 2015Uncategorized

Prcie squeeze image 7.26

Summary: after a decade or more of having the Biopharma industry wrestle to embrace Patient-centricity, and with it the opportunity to create patient demand and loyalty for more expensive, branded treatments, a chasm is growing which could derail it all.

As always, a true issue for marketers can often be the culmination of many discussions, news, interviews, charts and stats. This week an issue that has always been part of the negative dynamic between Biopharma manufacturers, Payers and patients has risen from what seemed like an endless family squabble to a seismic shift in reality that impacts everything we as marketers do — yet is out of our control.

Price. 

And if price is ALL that matters, then what a patient wants or asks for is moot. The empowered Patient Sales Force needs more support than ever.

This is nothing new, right? Over 70% of all Rx are generics in an attempt to control this rising mountain of expense.

High deductible plans are meant to ‘incent (code word for ‘force’) patients to choose lesser cost versions of branded drugs.

Or for oncology, where so many breakthrough seem to be accelerating and prolonging lives:

But this week, the issue seems to have taken on new momentum. Mr Jimenez, Novartis CEO got right to the point, yet opened up the door for new strategies: “Across the board in the U.S., the pricing environment is more difficult,” Jimenez told the news service. “With a consolidated payer base as well as consolidated providers, you have to assume going forward that price increases in the U.S. are going to be quite limited.”

As FierceBiotech continued: As one example of how Novartis is trying to navigate the new payer landscape, the Swiss drugmaker designed its late-stage studies for the heart failure drug Entresto to deliver the kind of outcomes data that could impress payers. The drug successfully prolonged patients’ lives and staved off hospitalizations, giving Novartis ammo for its negotiations with PBMs and health plans.

Another piece of news came form my brilliant friend, Bruce Grant, who discussed with me the reality that maybe the only path to success in such turbulence might be for Biopharma to reach outside the castle and start making partnerships with payors and hospital systems. Nothing new here, except like a thermometer going up rapidly, this idea was at 98.6 last year, but is reaching fever pitch in 2015.

In the end, Biopharma has lost much of its control over pricing. But many — Janssen, Merck, Novo, UCB — are reaching ‘beyond their borders’ to partake in shared metrics such as outcomes, pay-for-performance data, shared services and several other strategies.

Of course, the industry still struggles with the ultimate in bad-business-models: the leaky bucket of non-adherence.

Are there other strategies or initiatives occurring as I write? Of course. But unless senior management makes it part of the bonus and leads by example, then the family squabble will continue with Biopharma getting squeezed out to the end of the table.