5 Important Trends Shaping Pharma Business in 2016


In a sector as fast-changing as biopharmaceuticals, it’s important to look beyond today’s hot topics to identify the long-term factors which are really driving change in the industry.

From a list that could include a hundred headline-grabbing trends, we’ve pinned down five critical developments in 2016 that are influencing how biopharmaceutical companies:   bring their drugs to market, interact with a growing set of customers and advocates, and improve the health of billions of people around the world.

  1. We are living in the era of specialty drug launches:

    To help treat serious, chronic conditions in new market niches, healthcare companies are focusing more than ever on the specialty drug space.  A recently conducted study 1 found that there is an overwhelming investment that goes into launching specialty products, with approximately 74% of all physicians targeted by marketing teams to be working in specialty, rather than primary care, roles.  The rise of specialty products also has important ramifications for the field MSL and sales force teams who engage with doctors.  Today’s biopharma sales reps are more likely than ever to bring scientific, clinical or medical knowledge and backgrounds to the table in order to effectively detail complex new therapies for specialist prescribers.

  1. Health outcomes data is an increasingly critical tool for effective thought leader engagement:

    The demand of health outcomes and scientific data has gained a powerful foothold among customers and payers alike.  According to Best Practices, LLC’s 2 latest Medical Affairs benchmarking research, two-thirds of biopharma companies report that the use of outcomes research and real world data has become “much more important” recently to successful thought leader engagement.

  1. “Patient centricity” is becoming operationalized in the customer engagement model:

    No longer just an aspirational invocation, leading biopharma companies are transforming their disease state education and marketing approaches to become more patient-centric than ever.  Today’s patients are better informed and have more decision-making power in their treatment options.  Using analytics-driven patient journey maps, companies are taking bold steps to re-invent the tactics and objectives they use to provide a better treatment experience and differentiate their products and services beyond traditional efficacy and safety benchmarks.  From clinical trial design, early advocacy outreach, and growing patient resource tools, drug manufacturers are pushing forward in multiple directions.  In fact, according to research, 83% of pharma companies recently surveyed  3 expect to increase spending for patient programs in at least one stage of the Patient Journey over the next 12 months.

  1. Digital customer engagement is enabling companies for better, faster customer access:

    With healthcare and drug costs accelerating and traditional access to physicians diminishing, healthcare companies have adapted by shifting resources to digital forms of market education, engagement and promotion.   According to our new benchmarking report 4 approximately 90% of pharma marketing teams are now targeting healthcare professionals via mobile tools.  In addition, roughly two-thirds of large pharma digital teams polled by Best Practices, LLC are allocating time and resources to explore the possibilities offered by increased customer use of wearable devices, growth in the use of electronic health records, clinical trial recruitment, digital medicine and other health innovation areas.

  1. Alternative financing models may make treatments more affordable for millions of patients:

    Despite legislative changes and highly-publicized controversies over drug pricing strategy (e.g., Valeant and Turing Pharmaceuticals), the cost of healthcare treatment continues to grow.  One approach that pharma companies can opt for is an alternative financing model, where payments for expensive drugs (especially ones that treat chronic, serious conditions) are more manageable for patients.  More than half of the consumers polled by PwC 5 said they would be more willing to pay for a pricy drug over time rather than bear the full burden all at once.  Though the issue of healthcare affordability extends far beyond healthcare manufacturers alone, savvy companies are exploring strategies like these to help improve the health and well-being of their patients.


Which essential trend did we leave out?  We’d love to hear what you think!


1 http://www.best-in-class.com/bestp/domrep.nsf/products/winning-necessary-resources-successful-product-launch?opendocument

2 http://www.best-in-class.com/bestp/domrep.nsf/products/developing-strong-internal-thought-leader-management-capabilities-inside-medical-affairs?opendocument

 3 http://www.best-in-class.com/bestp/domrep.nsf/products/patient-focused-marketing-engagement-milestones-along-the-patient-journey?opendocument

4 http://www.best-in-class.com/bestp/domrep.nsf/products/best-practices-biopharma-digital-marketing-innovation-hotspots-mobile-targeting?opendocument

5 https://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/top-health-industry-issues/assets/2016-us-hri-top-issues.pdf

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