Marketing strategy in complex environments

Mark Assenti, Kulveer Singh|19th September 2016

The last few years have seen influential scientific advances, resulting in subtle shifts in how pharma tackles disease treatment. Novel modes of action (MOA) products, patient selection protocols, and treatment management techniques have all become more sophisticated; and with pharma investing more and more, the patient treatment cascade is being revolutionised.

Consultant Mark Assenti and Associate Medical Copywriter Kulveer Singh discuss the shift away from tried and trusted ‘fix-all’ solutions, the rise of treatment matrices, and what this means for pharma strategists and their product lines.

What’s changing?

A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to medicine is becoming less attractive and effective, particularly with resistant disease strains an increasing problem and the recognition of genetic differences in patients. The changing treatment landscape has led to the rise of personalised medicine – an approach that emphasises how disease risks are unique to the individual, based on the predisposition written into their genome. With personalised medicine, products with defined patient populations are becoming increasingly prevalent and are transforming certain therapy areas into finely segmented markets.

One example of this is in cystic fibrosis, and the advent of disease modifying agents specific towards certain genetic mutations (Kalydeco, Orkambi). With multiple product launches on the horizon, it is anticipated that there will be a genetically segmented market with uniquely defined and overlapping patient populations. 

To combine or not to combine?

With more attention being given to personalised medicine, there has been a rise in combination therapy – the use of multiple medications to combat the same disease. Whilst not new, this approach is becoming increasingly effective for certain therapy areas, particularly oncology.

The advantage of combination therapy is that one drug may be used to reduce inflammation or slow the movement of the particular disease, while the other may directly destroy the foreign cells. A good example of this is the combined use of Abraxane and gemcitabine in the treatment of metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas – Abraxane helps to inhibit cancer cell growth, and gemcitabine encourages apoptosis of cell DNA.

Another popular combination therapy is HAART: Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy used for HIV where six major types of drugs are used. The treatment of aggressive diseases often benefits very noticeably from combination therapy, especially when involving the immune system.

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