Real-time data can put slow drug launches into the fast lane, researcher says

Ask any pharma company: Drug launches are tough. A thousand things can go right or wrong. But that's where data--especially quickly gathered, targeted data--can make the difference.

InCrowd CEO Janet Kosloff

Healthcare market researcher InCrowd adapts an ask-and-learn approach to real-time data gathering for pharma client drug launches. "In a launch scenario, every single day you're not getting maximum uptake is a significant loss for drug companies," CEO Janet Kosloff told FiercePharmaMarketing. "There is an urgency to get the most from that launch period. ... We ask questions and learn, then we ask something else and learn something else."

Kosloff offered a client example: A recent drug launch was not getting the uptake they felt the treatment should be getting, which is a not uncommon problem. InCrowd surveyed physicians--both those who had heard the sales pitch and those who hadn't--on a range of relevant variables such as perceived efficacy, administration of the drug, and its new-to-market mechanism of action.

They found that doctors didn't really understand the mechanism of action and were hesitant to prescribe the new drug. The drugmaker redeployed its sales force and mounted an education campaign to explain the specific biochemical interaction involved. It worked: Sales ticked upward.

Disconnects between doctors and pharma are common during launches. Advertising missteps and negative consumer perceptions can also trip up a new drug. Data-gathering and insights can help in all these areas, Kosloff noted. Pre-launch is another intense data-gathering and adjustment phase, she said, with InCrowd often called in to test concepts and question physicians about their attitudes and insights.

In another recent case, quickly generated responsive data and testing turned a two- to three-month, $800,000 advertising market research project into a three-week turnaround at a cost of about $100,000, Kosloff said. Another case had a pharma questioning its ads after some negative media and consumer feedback. But InCrowd found overnight that the vast majority of consumers found the contested imagery was actually empowering.

"The ability to take on the issue of the moment and get answers quickly, versus going with your gut or a long research process is key," Kosloff said.

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