eyeforpharma Latin America 2014

May 22, 2014 - May 23, 2014, Miami, USA

How to deliver real value for all your Stakeholders

Value Added Services Report 2013-2014

Prepare your organisation for the future with 'Beyond the Pill' services

Plus Pill: A Shift in Pharma’s Mindset

The 21st century pharma company is no longer solely a provider of molecules. To survive in the new reality, the industry must change its mindset and offer services, putting the customer at the center of their activities.



In an uncertain climate, big pharma must understand its customers and deliver what they really need: value beyond the pill. While many companies have begun to do this in earnest, others hesitate and question whether patient services are warranted or appropriate. However, it is increasingly apparent that the industry has a role to play in patient support, and that much is at stake for the industry itself.

The importance of treatment adherence

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) improving adherence would have a greater impact on health than any potential discovery in medicine. Even if the pharmaceutical industry one day discovered the much wished for “cure for cancer,” it is likely that it won’t be taken properly (oral anti-cancer therapies currently run about 60% adherence).

In addition to being potentially lethal, non-adherence is expensive. While there may have been a tendency in the past to assume that not taking prescribed medicines provided some degree of savings, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which serves as an independent, official scorekeeper of the fiscal impact of federal policy and proposed legislation, changed its stance on medication adherence in 2002, recognizing that the evidence of a direct connection between medication use and healthcare spending was sufficient to “score” a medical cost offset in its budgetary forecast. The CBO’s budget forecasting now assumes that medication adherence can lead to reductions in doctor visits and hospitalizations, and impact the rise of healthcare costs.

Why pharma should focus on services

What can pharma do? We can bring all those puzzle pieces together and offer a solution focused on the disease state. Bring together science, technology and medicine, to try to make treatment more efficient".

Overall, there are three reasons pharma should invest in services: savings for the system, effective treatment for patients, and profits for the providers. “Introducing services, going beyond the pill, can lead to significant savings in healthcare,” said Christian Isler, Former Global Head Solution & Product Development, Pfizer. “If you can offer an efficient solution to reduce the 25% waste in healthcare, it’s very good. Patients get better treatment, and your organization makes money.”

There is no need for revolution in healthcare, but some streamlining is necessary.  “Often we have all the ingredients for effective care: we have the right medicine, effective guidelines, educated patients. But guidelines aren’t used, medicine isn’t taken, many doctors are struggling to provide an accurate diagnosis. What can pharma do? We can bring all those puzzle pieces together and offer a solution focused on the disease state. Bring together science, technology and medicine, to try to make treatment more efficient,” Isler stated.

Transactional vs. solution-focused healthcare

If we can get all the elements together: genotyping, personality, psychological factors, not just a science, not just the pill, then we’re onto something very powerful".

Non-adherence has obvious costs to the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma profits from providing value to patients, and that value can be measured by the improvement in patient health afforded by the products and services sold by the industry. If patients do not fully enjoy the health benefits that pharma products can offer, then that value is reduced. Some companies are now beginning to realize that their success depends on the success of their customers, but a lot of work is yet to be done.

“We’re trying to shift the thinking. We have to move from transactional to solution-focused way of doing things,” Isler said. A solutions perspective puts patients at the center. It considers the problem, the person’s genetic and biochemical background, but also his/her psychological profile and personality. “When we talk about personalized medicine, we usually focus on molecular parameters, instead of behavioral elements, which are also important,” Isler elaborated, adding an example of a patient with back pain.

In transactional reality, when your back hurts, you go to the doctor’s and after five minutes you leave with a prescription, which doesn’t help, even if you take it properly. Somewhere down the line, when the pain worsens, you stop moving, return to your doctor’s office, where you’re ordered expensive tests, often leading to surgery.

But from a solutions perspective, the first thing to do is to understand why your back hurts, and that’s achievable even without direct medical intervention. You can deal with that with a couple of questionnaires that your doctor can send you, which can lead him to realize that your back hurts from sitting at your desk for too long, so maybe instead of surgery, you need to visit your local health club.

“This is about focusing on a solution, to get your back back in order, rather than on selling individual services. The holistic element is crucially important,” Isler said. “If we can get all the elements together: genotyping, personality, psychological factors, not just a science, not just the pill, then we’re onto something very powerful,” he added.

Change in paradigm

It’s not natural for pharma to be a customer-focused industry, but now we need to be there, talking to our customers, instead of being this prescriptive black box that tells them what is good for them".

According to eyeforpharma's "The Importance of Patient Services" Whitepaper, the estimated impact from non-adherence ranges from $30 billion a year to $560 billion a year, although it must be pointed out that patients who do not adhere to a given treatment often end up on a different treatment, so the higher figures are undoubtedly not representative of the impact on the industry as a whole. This is not lost on the pharmaceutical executives. In 2011, business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information conducted a survey of 18 drug companies. The study concluded that 25% of overall sales were diminished by patient adherence, while 31% of revenue can be preserved by patient support efforts.

Nevertheless, offering patient-support services is often met with skepticism and fear. “People in pharma are scared,” said Isler. “Everyone agrees that the traditional model is broken, but nobody really knows the answer,” he admitted.

Entering into a dialogue with customers requires a shift in organizational structure. Companies need the right people with the right skill set, including experience in services and with customer interaction. “Pharma are mostly scientists and physicians, who are happy in their labs, but not talking to customers. It’s not natural for pharma to be a customer-focused industry, but now we need to be there, talking to our customers, instead of being this prescriptive black box that tells them what is good for them,” Isler concluded.

The days when pharma could safely build their business on a molecule are now gone and efforts must be made to ensure a shift in thinking necessary for the industry to remain relevant. To achieve this, companies need to overcome fears that have so far been crippling the revolution of pharma.


Christian Isler will be speaking more on this topic at eyeforpharma Latin America, May 22nd-23rd in Miami. For more information, click here.


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eyeforpharma Latin America 2014

May 22, 2014 - May 23, 2014, Miami, USA

How to deliver real value for all your Stakeholders