Thursday, 20 September 2012

Technology wonders

The article Coming Next: Using an App as Prescribed recently published on the New York Times discusses recent innovations in smartphone applications dedicated to healthcare.

In particular, it gives examples of applications designed to collect patient data, take those through a specific algorithm and send treatment recommendations to healthcare professionals in charge of managing the patient.

Although the level of precision of recommendations may vary, such a process would clearly represent a major concern for pharmaceutical companies, who would need to ensure their treatments are included - and fairly presented - amongst the available alternatives that will shape the recommendation.

Physicians will also consider these applications and their recommendations with extreme caution, particularly in the early days, but could the current trend for cost-saving accelerate their adoption?

If you are a brand manager in the pharmaceutical industry, you certainly want to keep an eye on these apps and even more on the guidelines the FDA will publish later this year, as it could mean opportunities  not to be missed.

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Changing Roles of Pharmacists in the Philippines

Pharmacists are not medical doctors and yet, their role is becoming increasingly significant in managing patients in the Philippines.

The evolution of market access regulations in the Philippines

The Philippines market is a non-reimbursement or paying market, where patients need to finance themselves their healthcare costs. However, modern healthcare costs such as consultation fee and medications have become increasingly burdensome to patients.
As a response, the government devised initiatives to help patients cope, including the Generics Act (by which physicians should write the generic name of the drugs in their prescription, thereby facilitating substitution to the benefit of more affordable alternatives) and the Maximum Drug Retail Price (regulating prices).

 Patient and consumer dynamics

Beyond facilitating access to medications, these regulatory moves have transformed traditional pathways. Patients now commonly seek advice from pharmacists, who may appear more informed about the various treatments available and their respective prices. In some cases, patients may even be skipping the consultation with their doctors for immediate advice or relief of their condition.
As such, the pharmacists role is shifting towards greater responsibility in treatment evaluation and choice.

  How best to engage with pharmacists?

Pharmacists now play a key role in the treatment pathway that ranges on a variety of patient responsibilities:
  • From Education to counselling to ensure compliance and safety 
  • Brand promotion can also fall into their activity, as they will be in a position to assess and recommend another brand or generic counterpart - while pushing some products under specific promotion agreements is already common practice.
These new responsibilities offer great opportunities to pharmaceutical companies who will find multiple opportunities to engage with pharmacists through mutually beneficial activities:
  • Training that enhances  their knowledge and the service they can provide
  • Pharmacy-specific support and promotion programs
  • Product information and updates that will benefit patients
  • Insight generation programmes

The author:  Odette Navarro is Managing Director of Branding Science in the Philippines. She has over 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical market research in Asia and contributed to building major brands throughout their lifecycle. On September the 26th 2012, she will be sharing insights from her research experience with pharmacists in the Philippines during a poster session at the EphMRA in Beijing