Do brands matter in pharma? Not as much as outcomes, patients say: study

Digital Patient Graphic
Pharma companies should be thinking about promoting evidence-based solutions that will appeal to patients, Accenture Life Sciences Managing Director Jim Cleffi says.

Pharma brands don’t matter nearly as much to consumers as results when it comes to new drugs, according to a new report.


Accenture Life Sciences found that 69% of patients said product benefits were more important than brand. Only 25% ranked brand loyalty or popularity as a top factor in their healthcare and product and treatment decisions.

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So instead of spending millions on brand advertising—or maybe along with it—pharma companies should be thinking about promoting evidence-based solutions that will appeal to these patients, Jim Cleffi, managing director at Accenture Life Sciences, said.

The recent inaugural survey of 8,000 patients in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany, which focused on product launches in the pharma industry, also found that only 38% of patients felt they had a lot of knowledge about products coming to market to treat their condition, while 25% had limited or no knowledge.

“I think we’re underserving the notion that the patient’s role in the treatment decision is starting to become much more prevalent, especially as the cost burden becomes more and more,” Cleffi said. “Saying you’re patient centric is fine, but you’re still doing it in the context of the value that a pharma company gets predominantly through the provider and payer. The voice of the patient hasn’t been as dominant as it is and will be becoming.”

Treating patients as a population works for general treatments today with diseases like diabetes. However, as new personalized medicines to treat diseases such as cancer come to market and take into account individual genetics and biomarkers, that will force a change in what it means to be patient centric. Pharma will be required to go from a “population view of patient centricity to almost a population of one patient-centric view,” Cleffi said.

The opportunity for pharma is in informing patients better and earlier in the process with new product launches—starting before they are diagnosed, when they may be symptomatic or have lifestyle or genetic risks—according to the paper.

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