A product no longer is enough

Pharma’s past experience relates to launching, promoting and selling drugs. This era is coming to the same end as the times of frequent blockbusters are. Not only the drought in pipelines but missing therapeutic exclusivity makes it ever more difficult to achieve a decent payback for the efforts finding and marketing new drugs.

The number of examples, when new drugs are no longer granted reimbursement and therefore market access is rising. The amount of money getting lost due to unexpected outcome of cost-benefit assessments is harming the industry. Pharmacompanies are disappointed when their so costly identified product features are looked at in a very different way by new stakeholders. Non-reimbursement in reimbursed markets is blocking market access for external reasons. Only getting a price of the current gold-standard generic drugs is an internal roadblock. Both scenarios lead to bitter tears.

Pricing and reimbursement over time have become key disciplines trying to gain access to markets. Evidently a number of old rules does no longer apply.

To better get along on the pathway to market access a new industry has emerged. Dossier experts are trying to keep the old paradigm of selling a drug working. Writing dossiers for pharmacos trying to match the assumed needs of regulatory authorities has become a very powerful discipline. At least it is an art and the number of words and pages written is huge. The purpose is to finely hone the words in an attempt to impress decision making bodies in favor of a product. The assumption may be allowed that many of these efforts will be done in vain: sooner or later a product will no longer be enough.

The growth in yearly global spending is forecast to more than double by 2016 says IMS. This growth will be owed to governments who responsibly seek to grant improved health care to their rural and remote population. In some of the emerging markets this is a vitally necessary step to prevent unmanageable urbanization. The additional funds will not be allowed to feed international pharma and compensate slower market growths in mature markets. 

Booz&Co have identified in 2012, 68% of executives see pharma’s current sales model as broken. This finding is nothing alarming – it should be known since longer.

As Lynette Ryals writes in Harvard, KAM is an organizational change and not a sales technique. As pointed out in the first textbook on Pharma Key Account Management, a lasting and beneficial relationship is the heart of Key Account Management.

Most stakeholders in our pharmaceutical nowadays need to be seen as accounts, since a number of people is actively involved in making decisions. This similarly applies to registration, reimbursement, recommendation, purchasing, usage, and prescribing a product.

All of these decision makers must be seen as bodies or decision making units
consisting of more than one person.
These decision makers, we call them New
Stakeholders, have most various problems and issue to be solved. They need a
lot more than simply a drug. They need a solution to their problem. Pharma knows
and has a number of remedies to solve problems.
A remarkable sentence from an important person:
“This isn’t just about saving money –
most importantly, it is about making sure that patients stay well and get the
best outcomes from their medicines.” (Lord Howe, Under Secretary of Health, UK -  NHS, July 2011)

Imagine pharma would offer:

  • disease related education to patients
  • solutions to the most pressing problem of patient’s non-adherence
  • assistance in educating professional nurses for deployment in rural regions
  • clinics to diagnose and treat widespread diseases in remote areas
  • industrial project management skills
  • support clinicians reducing the administrative burden freeing time for patients
  • assistance to increase efficiency of national health systems
  • to help establish improved treatment pathways
  • support creating and maintaining networks of HCPs
  • access to its huge and vast archives of disease related knowledge

All these examples of course carry a clear connection to an area of interest specific to a company, its areas research, expertise and products. Yet the objectives and offerings are very different from “increasing our revenue by x% until end of “y”: above offerings will differentiate companies from each other and make the difference. The public opinion will probably get an idea of company names and brand values, and stakeholders will be very happy if a KAM comes to see them regularly, teaming up with colleagues on both sides in support of solving a mutual problem.

Who does not have ideas must grant rebates.

[1] Lynette Ryals is professor of Strategic Sales and Account
Management at Cranfield University School of Management.

[2] Lord Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Quality, Dep.
of Health, UK