May 28, 2015
Is there any area of healthcare more complex than oncology? New targets and therapies are constantly hitting the market. Payer dynamics continue to evolve. And the very definition of “living with cancer” changes year by year. At Navicor, we are constantly surveying not just the landscape, but the horizon, to see where challenges and opportunities may lie for our clients. The following are five key trends we see emerging over the next 12-18 months.
- Positioning—true brand positioning—is going to become ever more important. You might ask, “How is this a trend? It’s always been the case.” But over the last 5-10 years, many of the newly approved products in oncology have entered as a first-in-class product—with new technology, targets, or discrete and ownable patient populations. This is not the case moving forward in 2016 and beyond. Product data are increasingly commoditized and beginning to look very similar across compounds. And with the constant emergence of new oncology brands and the flood of “me too” TKIs, mAbs, PARP inhibitors, ADCs, repackaged cytotoxics, biosimilars, and PD-1 and PD-L1 immuno-oncology compounds, finding a meaningful point of differentiation well in advance of launch minus 1 year and building a real brand is going to become more essential. That’s why we focus intensively on zeroing in on just the right positioning and building team consensus around it.
- Promotional channels will continue to shift and evolve. While the pace of group practice acquisitions by institutions has fallen off, traditional modes of access to HCPs (sales reps) continually become more compromised. Companies need to invest more in things like on-demand and tele-detailing. And the role of Medical Affairs and MSLs needs to evolve. Just think: high-touch consumer retailers who answer the phone at all hours—a model of highly flexible, customizable communication that adds to perceived brand equity.
- Oncology is a managed category where there will be immense pressure for innovation, outcomes, and cost containment. The average cost of a new therapy is now over $100,000 per patient. Thus, positioning and brand equity become all that much more important. Pick a patient type, show the benefit and the outcomes—own that segment. To that end, one new strategy we’re recommending to clients is earlier alignment of commercial teams with study designs.
- Oncologists are increasingly overloaded with data and mechanisms of action. KM curves and hazard ratios remain important but can’t, by themselves, create awareness, differentiate, and change behavior. Traditional advertising tools are still useful in capturing attention and delivering a single, compelling message/value proposition (as outlined in point 1). Sometimes, the best way to capitalize on a trend is a traditional, tried and true tool.
- The patient paradigm is shifting from cancer “victim” to cancer “survivor.” Thanks to numerous treatment innovations, the patient with cancer is living longer. All consumers also now instinctively seek out information via the Internet and other digital channels to educate and prepare themselves on any subject. Thus, patients are becoming more engaged in their overall care—and often challenge or second-guess their doctor. They want to be part of choices in diagnostics, treatment, trial participation, supportive care, and maintenance therapy. This, in turn, obligates us to help them, to assist in education and delivery of appropriate, relevant information—arming them to fight for the best care and treatment. Navicor is pioneering creative, yet responsible use of social media and other platforms to cultivate and expand patient knowledge and involvement—on behalf of patients and our clients’ brands.