In our last post we discussed the increasingly comprehensive approach that R & D will need to take in order to deliver products that can meet increasing market expectations. Before we get into the implications for the pharmaceutical sales representative it is important to understand what needs to happen for one of these more advanced products to be used appropriately so as to optimize the clinical benefits and to realize the potential value and cost benefit. The intent here is not to draft a marketing plan (and I’m sure I’ll miss something anyway) or bore you with all the details about launching and promoting a product but rather to highlight the enormous task at hand. Here are just some of the steps and hurdles to adoption and appropriate use that will be needed to get the most (clinical benefits for patients, economic benefits for payers, and financial reward for the companies that do it well) out of innovative new products with more comprehensive product profiles:
- The market must be made aware of and educated about the product, who it is for, what it can do clinically, what patients can expect if they take the drug and why it has value as a therapeutic option
- Healthcare providers and laboratory personnel must be educated about the companion diagnostics including the potential use of genomics testing. (What the tests are, who should be tested and who doesn’t benefit from testing, how to do the testing, what the tests can and can not tell you, and how to interpret the results). Insurers and providers also need to understand the economics of ordering and using a test (when does it make economic sense, when is it cost prohibitive).
- Formularies must have the data they need to evaluate the product, its appropriateness for their patients and the potential clinical and economic impact on their patients and plan or institution.
- Prices and reimbursements must be negotiated
- Supply chains must be informed and stocked (potentially includes lab testing and handling supplies)
- Government decision makers, hospitals, insurers, and physicians will need to understand the clinical value, cost benefit, and impact on quality metrics and patient outcomes
- Hospitals in particular, will need to understand how to evaluate the product (have validated designs and models) for determining the impact on quality metrics, patient outcomes, and pharmacoeconomics within their own healthcare systems.
- Physicians and patients must understand how best to use the product for optimal clinical benefits
- Patients must understand the importance of compliance and adherence and the consequences of neglecting to take the product as prescribed
Some might argue that these are the same issues and tactics that have to be dealt with in the market today. None of this is a lot different than what companies are doing or at least should be doing now. If that is true, then with all this to get done for so many products in a large very complex market, why is it that so many pharmaceutical sales representatives find themselves out of a job today with an increase in discussions about the lack of value being delivered and the potential extinction all together of the pharmaceutical sales representative job? We’ll explore that further in the next post.