Pharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2017 - 4
Dispense as Written
To serve the patient
This issue has a concentration of features revolving around patient services: the regulatory compliance
issues thereof (p. 16); new hub-services software at Cardinal Health (p. 18) and Accenture's annual patientsurvey results (p. 8). Stretching the theme somewhat, one could include the expanded-access programs
feature on p. 19 (a topic known in Europe as "named patient"), and even, since many of the specialty
drugs tailored to individual patients are injectables, the packaging feature from West Pharma on p. 24. Our
conversation with Jim Cleary of AmerisourceBergen (p. 12), while covering a range of topics, also highlights
one of the leading patient-service outsourcers, Lash Group.
This concentration was partly by design, but partly based on news as it happens in the industry. Patient
service is an often-cited, less-often-executed mission of the pharma industry, which has been talking about
"patient centricity" for years, but which is arguably at its lowest point ever in the public's eyes for how it
interacts with patients.
We are paying closer attention to patient services, not just because of the business drivers we're reporting on, but also because that's where
medical science, in the form of cellular and genetic therapies like CAR-T technology, is going. FDA approved the second new immunotherapy
in this area, Kite Pharma's Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in mid-October, following the approval of Novartis' Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel)
in August. And we're happy to see the return of Provenge (sipuleucel-T), the very first immunotherapy based on autologous cell treatment,
and one that pioneered the logistics of obtaining a patient's own cells, manipulating them genetically, and returning them to the patient.
(Provenge was introduced, somewhat unsuccessfully as a commercial offering, in 2010; following a bankruptcy and acquisition, it is now
owned by Sanpower Group, a private Chinese company, and is reporting positive sales results).
These therapies have the common element of involving close medical intervention (apheresis, infusion, and extensive patient profiling
and followup) with a pharma company delivering a therapy. One doesn't happen without the other. You could say that there's the same
interactivity when a physician prescribes a pill for a patient, but the coordination of activities is vastly expanded.
We don't know why, but the significant volume of activity that pharma companies support for patient services today (and which is
growing) is seldom highlighted in the general press, or even in the journals like ours that serve the pharma industry. In fact, the opposite has
been happening; through some bad apples (like the blowup involving Valeant Pharma and its closely affiliated pharmacy, Philidor, a year
ago), patient services has been looked on as an improper intrusion into patients' lives.
But in fact, there are thousands of patients today, interacting with case managers at pharma companies or at their service providers,
engaging in helpful counseling, emotional, financial and medical support, and making medicine better for the patients that use them. Patient
services is almost de rigueur in rare diseases and orphan drugs, for the benefit of both the patient and the pharma company invested in it.
There are lessons (which some of the service providers are beginning to apply) in adding patient services support to the marketing of nonspecialty drugs-another indication of the changing dynamic between the patient, the healthcare providers and the industry.
There's a good story to be told in this activity; it should be heard better.
4 Visit our website at www.PharmaceuticalCommerce.com November | December 2017