Does your pre-launch strategy really drive behaviour change?

Dorottya Okros|16th October 2019

One of the most interesting parts of a pharmaceutical launch is delving into the minds of the stakeholders to understand why they behave in the way that they do.

Through embarking on this process, we can uncover the drivers that lead healthcare professionals to make decisions, along with the influences that shape patients’ information-seeking behaviour. We embark on a journey filled with twists and turns as we come closer to the truth and uncover why stakeholders think and feel a certain way.

In order to shape the market, pharmaceutical teams have to understand the current landscape. It’s important to guarantee the customer engagement plan is on target, ensuring that the right people are engaged, at the right time and in the right way. Insights sit at the heart of this, preventing brand teams from basing their strategy on assumptions rather than facts.

Insight comes from combining a deep understanding of customers with an understanding of the market. It is about aligning customers’ needs and the needs of the business to uncover brand opportunities. While traditional market research can help you identify the unmet needs of your audience, it will not tell you why that unmet need exists in the first place and, unlike insight, it will not offer possible solutions.

In this respect, insight goes beyond traditional market research. Achieving insight means truly listening to customers to understand why they make the decisions they make in the environments they operate in.

Challenging assumptions in rare disease

In 2018, we mapped the physician’s journey when diagnosing a patient with a rare progressive disease. Approximately, five in 100,000 people are diagnosed with this illness. Due to the scarcity of the disease, patients are often misdiagnosed with other ‘mimic’ diseases that present similar symptoms

Historically, there had been no disease modifying treatment available for these patients. However, a new therapy was entering the market and the progressive nature of the illness meant it was essential for patients to receive the treatments as early as possible.

The brand team assumed the physician was using a specific diagnostic scale designed to identify the rare disease and measure progression.

However, when we interviewed doctors, they said the test was complex and laborious to use – it did not meet their needs in the clinical setting. Instead, they were using a test designed for a far more common illness.

Armed with these insights, the brand team added a secondary endpoint which clearly indicated that physicians could use an altered version of the simpler test to make a faster diagnosis. Simultaneously, the team developed core relationships with both the rare disease patient groups and also with the groups associated with the mimic disease. This helped them reach a wider network of undiagnosed patients. Additionally, a disease awareness campaign to illustrate the importance of accurate diagnosis became an integral part of the launch strategy.

“If the team had not understood why the healthcare professionals were failing to use the scale, they could not have improved the method for diagnosing the rare disease”

The brand team would have also missed the opportunity to improve drug uptake and drive further awareness of the rare disease across the wide network of patient communities.

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