Accenture Report Highlights What Patients Want in New Treatments From Pharma

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NEW YORK—When launching new products, pharmaceutical companies should focus more on evidence-based solutions than just the product or brand, according to a new report from Accenture on product launches in the pharmaceutical industry. Among the key findings in the report, titled “Product Launch: The Patient Has Spoken,” brands are not major influencing factors when patients consider new pharmaceutical products. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of patients surveyed said the product’s benefits—treatment outcomes—are more important than the brand itself, with less than one-third (31 percent) citing a strong affinity to brands in a health care setting.

The report identifies the factors influencing patients’ consideration and selection of new treatments coming to market. Based on a survey of 8,000 patients in France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. across eight therapeutic areas—immunology, cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, oncology, rheumatology, endocrinology and eye disease—the report is designed to help pharmaceutical companies understand what will help enable them to launch new treatments successfully in a market characterized by more-complex specialty therapeutics, rising costs and an intensified focus on value and outcomes.

“Patients feel that the treatment choices they make are often not based on the full picture, so there’s clearly an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to help bridge the gap in patient knowledge in new and meaningful ways,” said Boris Bogdan, MD, a managing director in Accenture’s Life Sciences practice and a co-author of the report.

When asked which factors influence their health care and product/treatment decisions, patients most often cited the doctor/physician relationship (66 percent), the patient’s ability to maintain their current lifestyle (55 percent), and ease of access to the care they’ll need (53 percent). Brand loyalty or popularity was relatively unimportant, ranking 12th out of 14 influencing factors.

“Given the significant budgets pharmaceutical companies devote to driving brand equity in the marketplace, our report findings should be a strong signal to the industry that launch strategies need to change,” said Jim Cleffi, a managing director in Accenture’s Life Sciences practice and a co-author of the report.

The report also noted that patients want to be better informed about new therapies, the outcomes they can deliver and have a stronger voice in their treatment decisions, with most patients lacking product and treatment knowledge. Specifically, fewer than four in 10 patients (38 percent) said they feel very knowledgeable about new or existing products coming to market for their condition, and one-quarter (25 percent) reported having either very limited or no knowledge of new products that might be suitable for them.

In addition, less than half (48 percent) of patients believe that their doctors discuss the full range of product options with them, and even fewer (44 percent) feel that they have significant input into their treatment selection — even though nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all patients surveyed said they want to be involved in such decisions.

The survey findings also identified differences in attitude and behavior by age group, with younger patients more likely than older ones to understand which treatments are available—and switch treatments when they believe there’s something better. For instance, while physician recommendation was the most-cited reason across all age groups for switching treatment, Millennials are almost twice as likely as Baby Boomers to be influenced by people posting alternative treatment options on social media.