The Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry - Biopharmaceuticals and Patient Centric Approach in Marketing


The Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry - Biopharmaceuticals and Patient-Centric Approach in Marketing

All those who have read my LinkedIn post where I reproduced G. V. Prasad's (Managing Director – DRL) interview with McKinsey, will appreciate that the future of pharma is in biopharmaceutical, biosimilars, novel biologics, and cell & gene therapies.

So what does this mean for the pharma marketers?

The biopharmaceutical market is increasing over the world, at a much faster speed than the market for all other drugs. 

I predict that biopharmaceuticals have great potential for further dynamic growth because of the tremendous popularity and the requirement for these drugs.

The formulation of these complex biopharmaceutical macromolecules is not as straightforward as their small-molecule counterparts.

The high patient doses required for biologic therapeutics, for example, present significant drug-delivery challenges.

Because of their nature, biopharmaceuticals are not easy to deliver via the oral route. These drugs are currently injected using intravenous infusion in the hospital, or INCREASINGLY IN THE HOMES OF PATIENTS.

A great many biologic products for parenteral administration are freeze-dried in vials to help maintain drug stability and increase shelf life. The development of liquid biologic preparations in prefilled syringes and auto-injectors is ongoing.

Prefilled syringes and auto-injectors offer convenience – and importantly, at a place where a patient spends over 95% of his time – at home or in the office. Insulin is one such example. More biological products are under development for inflammatory disease, auto-immune disease, psoriasis, multi-sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and many more.

And that’s the reason why for the past four years I have been harping on the patient-centered model of marketing for the pharmaceutical industry in India and Bangladesh.

One of the significant stakeholders in this new game is the caregiver at home.

Significant yet neglected.

Self-administration of biopharmaceutical products has its own set of challenges. Both patients and the caregivers at home require training and education to ensure that these drug-delivery systems are administered accurately. Nevertheless, this is not the only problem.

Self-injection of biopharmaceutical products is not a pleasant, agreeable, or pleasing thing to do. Hence adherence and compliance to such drugs is often a problem.

Only the other day, the Executive Vice-President of a large Indian biopharmaceutical company (which is one of the top biopharmaceutical producers in India) was telling me: “Our F & D team is facing a big challenge. We have to deliver larger volumes of biologic formulations, often beyond the capacity allowed by a syringe or an autoinjector”.

And to enhance adherence to therapy, the caregiver at home becomes even more critical. It’s crucial that Pharma India recognizes and supports its pivotal role in patient care. 

Nursing assistants in Ahmedabad charge about a thousand rupees a day and maybe more in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, or Bangalore. So just imagine the value of free care given by the caregivers at home! I don’t think that ever can be evaluated. And they do this often at the risk of their own health and well-being, considering the mental and physical stress they undergo.

And this caregivers-at-home, more often than not being taken for granted.

That’s not only a problem for caregivers-at-home, but for the patients under their care too. To successfully help those patients, Pharma India will have to make sure that caregivers-at-home get the support they need.

Pharma India should fast transform medical representatives to the knowledge worker. They may have to closely work with the patients and caregivers-at-home. Novo Nordisk initiated this successfully more than a quarter of a century back. Even today, Novo Nordisk is committed to patients and caregivers at home. No doubt, they are the unchallenged world-leaders in diabetic care.

Pharma India should commit to fully respecting the patient community’s independence and integrity, and work simple and transparent way with patients and the caregivers-at-home. Then the laws like the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act or the proposed UCPMP Act may not even be necessary.