Dermatology faces big changes, but pharma can help ease transition: expert

Woman with Doctor
Pharma companies can support the upcoming changes in dermatology practices with improved education and better targeting.

Time for a pharma facelift—when it comes to dermatology, that is. In the new landscape of mega-practices and competing medi-spas, pharma can best help dermatologists by helping them show value, according to research from Ogilvy Commonhealth.

The healthcare agency found that increasing consumer demands for services like anti-aging care and skin cancer prevention will result in large consolidated practices with a variety of specialists under one roof. Increasing competition from medi-spas, where consumers can get many of the same services, will also change traditional dermatology practices. Ogilvy noted that the medi-spa industry is already a $3.6 billion business, with 18% growth expected year-over-year. Another factor changing dermatology is the shift of prescription drugs to OTC, which means consumers have more at-home options as well. And they're all changes that pharma companies that sell dermatology drugs will need to support.

“You have bigger practices with lots more specialists who are competing with places that offer pretty similar services. Why would a person go to a dermatologist when they can get the same services elsewhere in a spa-like setting or at home? Pharma can help dermatologists demonstrate their value,” said Lisa Fritts, Ogilvy CommonHealth VP of planning.

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How? Pharma companies need to provide specific information and education to each of the specialists under the new dermatology roof, she said. Instead of the traditional generic mailers, free samples and savings cards, they should target each of the skin specialists with more customized materials. Pharma companies can do a similar thing for the larger offices’ expanding staff, which will include many more physician's assistants and nurse practitioners, by creating targeted programs and materials for those allied HCPs to increase knowledge and value to patients, Fritts advised.

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Technology is another area where pharma can lend derms a hand. Patient expectations for convenience will drive technology use with appointment scheduling, patient self-diagnoses through apps and and teledermatology appointments, Ogilvy Commonhealth says. Pharma can create tools like coordinating apps or other tech tools to aid dermatology's tech upgrade. Some pharma companies are already doing it, in fact. Cutanea Life Sciences recently said it would launch an app in tandem with acne medicine Aktipak that creates a visual timeline of face shots during treatment, allowing both patients and their dermatologists to track progress.