Pharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2016 - 6
Patient access strategy: specialty pharmacy, hub-or both?
Do you need to hire a hub service for your Patient Access Strategy or can you get by with a good specialty pharmacy
By Valerie Sullivan
In my career, I've
worked in the pharma
industry, at specialty
pharmacy (SP), and
at a patient-support
or hub. Hub services
can be set up inside a
pharma company (and many have been),
or can be outsourced to a company in that
business. Today, the question is often asked,
"How best to provide the patient access
and support necessary for today's specialty
pharmaceuticals?" There are advocates for
both sides of the question, but the answer is,
a combination of hub (whether internal or
external) and SP is the right answer.
Given our current health insurance
mar ketplace as well as the ongoing
transformation of the patient being central
to a brand's go-to-market strategy, having a
hub act strategically to capture data and relay
critical product communications is critical.
You need a communication platform which
your patients and their healthcare providers
can leverage in order to access all available
reimbursement and patient services that are
available. You need to build a meaningful
relationship with patients who are wielding
more power and decision making in their
Today's patient needs significantly more
support than ever before to understand
their prescribed drug, how much it costs,
what the insurance coverage is and what
support services are available. Patients
are savvy enough to know about coupons
that reduce co-pay amounts. Historically,
this level of support was provided by the
prescribing physician and his/her office staff.
Most healthcare providers (HCPs) have the
expertise to provide this support, but they
rely heavily on hubs to provide answers and
Commercialization leaders within
biopharmaceutical companies need to think
of hubs as a tool to disseminate the services
available to support patient use, adoption
and adherence to medication. Additionally,
hubs can be relied on to collect detailed
data regarding how their product is used.
Hubs will provide manufacturers with
significant patient demographics that will
inform thinking about product adoption,
adherence, managed care acceptance,
patient suppor t needs and produc t
affordability, in order to provide frequent
updates to management. While there are
regulations that oversee the execution of
how data is used in a marketing manner,
there are ways to engage your legal team to
guide you away from trouble and still ensure
your hub is providing you meaningful
information on your patients so that you
build a positive relationship with them.
Consider your hub as the central point for
data collection to provide you with insights
that further enhance and develop a detailed
patient engagement strategy-ultimately
supporting your patient relationships
SPs are in the business of dispensing
specialty medications. No medication can
be dispensed without getting a paid claim
from insurance for that product (pharmacy
benefit managers provide payment to
continued on page 26
About the author
Valerie Sullivan is former president of
inVentiv Patient Access Solutions LLC (now
TMS Health). Previously, she worked in various
management roles at Ascend Specialty
Pharmacy and SpecialtyScripts Pharmacy, and
started her career in the pharma industry. She
has a chemistry degree from College of the
Holy Cross, and an MBA from Northeastern
STEEPLECHASE: 28 HURDLES, SEVEN WATER JUMPS.
SOUNDS LIKE A PHARMA LAUNCH
By Tim Wohlgemut, TGaS Insights
As every biopharma executive knows, product launch
is a long, arduous journey with many hurdles to overcome and
competitors to outmatch. Too many companies trip up toward the
end. After putting so much energy and focus into overcoming clinical
and regulatory challenges, many are not prepared for the final hurdles
It's a lot like the steeplechase, a grueling Olympics long-distance
running event with 28 hurdles and seven water jumps. You put
enormous focus and energy into the early hurdles (think clinical and regulatory) but not
enough into the critical final ones (commercialization) that determine the outcome.
Steeplechase runner Evan Jager found himself far in the lead on July 4, 2015, with just
one hurdle to go at a major international event. He was on track to set a new American
record when he tripped on the last hurdle and watched desperately as he was passed before
scrambling to a second-place finish. His time was still respectable, but not nearly what it
could have been. He had conquered dozens of hurdles and more difficult hazards only to
be tripped up on the one he was least worried about.
Far too many pharma companies have a similar experience. They overcome many
significant hurdles only to find they aren't prepared for the final ones. In a recent
TGaS study on taking more of the risk out of launch planning, two-thirds of the precommercial executives we interviewed rated the typical biopharma company as "barely
prepared" at launch. Veterans of 168 launches, most of these leaders had served with large
and mid-tier companies.
Clearing the Last Hurdles. The leaders in our study identified ways to minimize
risk by reducing commercial spend until necessary while still being prepared for the final
hurdles. They made eight key recommendations:
1. Get the stage-gating of spending right. "You can spend too soon or too much on one
item and totally ignore investment in something vital. It is easy to do because there's a
lot to keep track of."
2. Plan well, outsource judiciously, hire the right talent and prepare them for change
from Day 1. "The peeling away of responsibility is a hard thing...I get that you used to
do everything. But now we need to let the new people do their job."
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3. Vendors are essential to scaling quickly and effectively but cannot be left alone.
"Find vendors that understand what it means to launch...and how crazy it is ...You need
a very strong view on the organization so you can appropriately guide them."
4. Hold out for the right people, which means starting your search earlier than you
might think you need to. "Finding the right people is one of the biggest challenges and
one of the goals we have most consistently missed."
5. K now your customer, and don't skimp on market research. "Market research
and budgeting were the most important things to spend time and money on,
6. Build a realistic forecast and pressure test it. "Underinvesting in realistic market
research was the worst mistake I've seen made. It's tough to move folks off the VC forecast
7. Be launch ready, and align product launch with your product vision. "The best
thing we did was to set a goal to be 'launch ready,' or as ready as we could be without
doing anything silly, two months prior to PDUFA."
8. R ecognize the need for both project management expertise AND project
management leadership. "What works best is a consolidated project management
view...What doesn't work is when the project management group doesn't have the
granular level of tactical expertise required."
Thoughtful planning and management, good leadership, realistic research, the right
expertise, and the right balance go a long way to support successful commercialization.
As any long distance runner knows, staying focused on those last hurdles can make the
difference between success-delivering value-and a fatal stumble in the stretch.
Source: Webinar: The Bio-Pharma Launch Catch-22, August 2016, TGaS Insights
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Wohlgemut (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Senior VP, TGaS Insights, a division
of TGaS Advisors. TGaS Insights makes TGaS Advisors' extensive data assets and
experts accessible through a portfolio of products, tools, reports and resources for the
biopharmaceutical industry, including the Launch Excellence Advisory Database.
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