Pharmaceutical Commerce - September/October 2017 - 13

tends to be more commercial or clinical in
nature, delivering field and contact center
sales or patient support teams. However,
in all engagements, we match our tailored
services to the opportunity the brand is
afforded. In many instances, the brands we
service need highly customized solutions
and a unique skill set to achieve success.
The intrinsic value Ashfield brings to
each engagement is our ability to draw
upon the market knowledge and field
experience gained globally within our
multiple service offerings. For example, our
healthcare communications companies can
draw upon our field experience to improve
their messaging or our event management
experience can help sales teams better tailor
their message to each specialty.


The core part of Ashfield seems to
be contract sales, whether in-field or
remote. What is the appetite today
for hiring contract salespeople by your
clients? How does Ashfield differentiate
itself from what your competitors are doing?

Interest and appetite by both our current
and prospective clients is quite high. The
healthcare landscape continues to shift
and organizations from small biotech
and start-ups to Top 10 Pharma look to
Ashfield for flexible, scalable and responsive
promotional solutions. Ashfield partners
with our clients to bring true innovation, all
based on our learning and successes from
around the world. There is also significant
interest globally in clinical solutions and
this has become an expanding area for
Ashfield as well. Our client partners come
to Ashfield for assistance with patient
support and education in order to ensure
the appropriate patients are prescribed their
medications and continue treatment long
term, with the hope to ultimately improve
patient outcomes.
Ashfield is the fastest growing contract
sales organization (CSO) in the US and
certainly only one of two truly global CSO
providers. We attribute our growth to
several items: First, as an organization, we
are focused on improving patient's lives
and supporting patient outcomes. This
focus runs through everyone who works
for Ashfield and into every solution we
build. Second, Ashfield is extremely service
focused. We can offer scale but with a
boutique service level that our clients want.
Finally, our values of quality, partnership,
ingenuity, expertise and energy form the
bedrock of our organization. They are not
simply words on the wall. These elements
are being responded to by the US market
as clients look for true, meaningful
partnership vs. transactional relationships.


What makes the ideal candidate
for an Ashfield contract sales
position? With its hires and its
organizational structure, how does Ashfield
address the differing needs of reps knocking
on doctors' doors, and market access

that meet with payer formulary committees
or contract negotiation groups?

The needs of our clients range widely
for contract sales positions for a variety
of reasons. The therapeutic area-now
including orphan and rare diseases, specialty
versus large primary care products, and the
position of the brand in its life cycle, all
impact how the product is best represented.
For us, we do not simply build sales rep
teams. Our clients and their customers
have wide needs and we offer innovative
solutions to address these needs. For us, it's
about truly customizing job requirements
to suit the project, drawing upon our
patient focus, high business acumen
and track record of success to deliver the
required solution. This is what our clients
are looking for and what we provide.
In addition, the actual roles of sales
representatives continue to evolve in
the industry and Ashfield is driving this
evolution. Ashfield currently has a wide
range of teams and designs to suit the
project. These include: stand-alone and
embedded hospital and primary care
teams, patient-focused patient service
teams, integrated field and phone teams,
rapid deployment representatives, as well
as remote Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs).
Certainly if the brand is not positioned
on a formulary, or a plan in place to
subsidize patient costs, deploying sales
teams can be an exercise in futility. As
a result, market access has become a hot
topic for virtually all of our clients and
particularly those who are in launch or prelaunch phase. To address this, Ashfield has a
dedicated Market Access company through
the acquisition of the top market access
company, Synopia Rx, several years ago. As
a result, our sales teams have the capability
to partner directly with our market access
teams to address payer requirements
whether they are large payer groups
and/or GPOs or IDNs and pharmacy &
therapeutic (P&T) committees. In addition,
we have de velop ed a mar ket-access
training program which is integrated into
our initial training for virtually all teams
to ensure every representative has a solid
understanding of the payer landscape.


Is there a need to address specialty
pharmaceutical markets (including
rare diseases) differently from
mass-market drugs? How does Ashfield
structure its approach in this case?

The US medication landscape is moving
rapidly to specialty-based products. In
fact, by 2021 45% of the products on the
market will be focused on the treatment of
a specialty or rare disease. We can attribute
this to an aging population requiring more
acute treatment for diseases where there are
few alternatives.
What this means to pharmaceutical and
biotech companies is they will be faced with
targeting smaller populations with much

more complex treatment regimens; not to
mention that in the next five years, we will
see more than 100 specialty medications
enter the market. In terms of supporting
and commercializing specialty markets,
the approach is similar to primary care
products, with one big exception: The
products will need to be launched and in
market much quicker and with far more
frequent product introductions. This
creates some increased risk for our pharma
and biotech partners-not just managing
the sheer number of product launches,
the logistics of getting on formulary, and
planning materials and launch programs-
but more importantly, helping the patient
population understand their condition so
that they start and stay on therapy.
What Ashfield and other CSOs bring
to the table is a unique, rich experience
background to address various therapy
areas in different markets. This allows CEOs
and commercial leaders to hedge their risk
by passing the burden along to industry
outsourcing partners. The reality is, with a
daunting amount of new products in the
next five years, the industry will need to
build a launch machine. The advantage
we have in the US is our sophistication
when it comes to understanding the
market and healthcare needs. Sourcing
the right candidate for rare disease and
specialty positions is driven by altruistic
achievement-taking personal satisfaction
in finding that "needle in a haystack" patient
whose life may depend upon the client's
Our recent acquisition of Cambridge
BioMarketing is a strong indication of our
commitment to this market need. As a
leader in orphan drug launches, providing
direction on HCP programs and patient
outreach, this acquisition of Cambridge
BioMarketing not only provides a platform
for growth in the support of orphan and
rare disease drugs, but also offers additional
support in patient-support communication
and digital outreach.


Ashfield is making a big push for
what it calls "patient services
teams," but these teams appear
to be focused mostly on assisting
physicians in their patient interactions.
In an era of decreasing physician access,
how does this patient services approach
make a difference? How much of what
Ashfield does interfaces directly with
patients, and how does that work?

Tr a d i t i on a l ly, ph a r m a a n d o t h er
industries have used a sales model that
relies on finding and training reps who can
call on customers to promote and sell their
brand. It has become increasingly apparent
that this model should continue to evolve
in response to the changing priorities of
healthcare. The Patient Service Team-
separate from, but complementary to,
traditional sales teams-enriches the way
brands interact with prescribers and helps
them care for their patients. The Patient
Service Team truly puts a company's desire
to be customer-centered into action. Their
job is to call on nurses and physicians every
day, but their conversations are only about
improving the lives of patients-delivering
disease literature and/or copay assistance
information. The structure of the service
team call is to spend only a few minutes
talking with the office staff about the
patient and as a result, has proven to be very
To drive this success, the very profile of
the service rep is quite different than that
of the detail rep. Service reps tend to come
from a customer service background versus
the science background of their field sales
rep counterparts. They are not overtrained
on the product to avoid slipping into any
kind of features/benefits discussion. They
have a clear mission to serve patients, and
as a result, tend to have improved job
satisfaction and retention.
In place now for more than seven years,
the Patient Service Team has achieved
nearly 100% access to targeted accounts
because of their proven value to patients,
physicians and office staff over traditional
representatives. Although many companies
find this model sometimes difficult to
embrace in that it does not represent an
opportunity to sell, the patient support
delivered, and the overall acceptance by the
physician and the office staff, are proving to
be a boon for the brand. Worked in tandem
with appropriate details, the model offers a
win-win for everyone.
In addition, client profitability with this
new model has gone up. This is a direct
result of either increasing or maintaining
sales coupled with a decreasing cost base.
With greater accessibility, these service reps
can do significantly more calls in a day than
the traditional sales rep, thereby reducing
call cost by 75-80%.
It is important to remember that the
traditional model remains in place when
a service model is utilized depending on
where the brand sits in the life cycle. For

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