Study: Pharma should revamp marketing for life-extending blood cancer meds

ZS Managing Principal Pratap Khedkar

New multiple myeloma meds are picking up steam, with Celgene ($CELG), Amgen ($AMGN) and Novartis ($NVS) competing for top dog in the market. Drugmakers point to promising survival data for their drugs, showing they could tack years onto patients' lives.

But for pharma to get the most bang for its buck, it should rethink its marketing strategies, according to a study from consulting firm ZS Associates. By weighing a broader range of info on the drugs, companies could better target their promos, ZS contends.

Traditionally, pharma has relied on retrospective patient data to support its marketing and R&D endeavors. In its study, ZS used a new analytic technique to estimate survival rates for multiple myeloma patients, factoring in projected patient demographics, clinical trials, cancer registries and expert physician opinions to get a better idea of how much longer patients could live while taking the meds.

The study concluded that survival rates for patients with multiple myeloma would hit 6 years by 2022, up from about two and a half years in 2000 and three and a half years in 2008.

The new analysis could help companies make better development decisions, Pratap Khedkar, a managing principal at ZS, told FiercePharmaMarketing. Future estimates could give drugmakers a better sense of whom to market to and how to go about expanding a product's footprint.

"You have to figure out what future events are going to happen that would also change the life trajectory," Khedkar said. "It's about looking at all the other innovations, what will happen and what the patient will experience. The [future] patient population is a very different picture than the patient population today."

New marketing analyses could come in handy for Novartis, Amgen and Celgene as they duke it out for the top spot in a multiple myeloma market estimated to grow to $16 billion by 2019. Celgene's Pomalyst brought in $679.7 million in sales in 2014 alone, while Amgen's Kyprolis posted less than half that amount, with $306 million in sales last year.

Novartis has faced a tougher road with its multiple myeloma med, Farydak (panobinostat), with the FDA waving off a speedy review process for the drug last year amid safety concerns. But the company is picking up the pace with the drug this year, scoring FDA approval and snagging a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency for Farydak in patients with advanced forms of the disease. Harnessing some forward-looking numbers and using new analytic approaches could help companies gain ground in the market, ZS figures.

- here's the study abstract
- read ZS' statement

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