Scrip is part of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC’s registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use. For high-quality copies or electronic reprints for distribution to colleagues or customers, please call +44 (0) 20 3377 3183

Printed By

UsernamePublicRestriction
UsernamePublicRestriction

Market Insight - Why cancer KOLs love to love Genentech

This article was originally published in Scrip

Executive Summary

In the oncology segment, the key opinion leader is a vital link in transferring innovative R&D into clinical practice. Time for companies to understand what makes them tick, argue Peter Carlin and Dr Ellen Gordon

It is becoming clear to drugs companies and other healthcare stakeholders that the oncology segment is driven by somewhat unique dynamics compared with the traditional pharmaceutical "mass markets". Data suggest that the oncology market provides the greatest opportunities for growth for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. In April, the US trade association PhRMA reported that medicines designed to treat cancer accounted for one-quarter of the 2,900 drugs currently in development.

Of course, the pharmaceuticals marketplace overall is evolving rapidly; there are an increasing number of "touch points" with the customer (eg, in the form of patient assistance programmes and reimbursement support) that impact their satisfaction and experience. Yet within oncology, in particular, there is a wider array of stakeholders to interact with, to support and influence.

One of those stakeholders is the key opinion leader (KOL), a thought leader typically sought after for their opinions and advice. KOLs speak at regional and national conferences, author new publications, influence new protocols and guidelines, become early adopters of new treatments and, most importantly, help transmit innovative treatments to practising oncologists in the community.

Companies with an interest in cancer are learning that as they invest more heavily in new oncology compounds, the battle for scientific hegemony is taking on critical importance. In this segment, the cancer KOL plays a central role in companies' battle to win over clinical investigators and patients, and to gain coverage for their products in publications.

Until now, surprisingly little was known about what drives a KOL to collaborate with an oncology company or, more importantly, what "performance measures" they consider most important.

To gain a better understanding of this area, the authors have over the past five years explored similar areas of cancer research in the US and Europe, examining how practising oncologists and other oncology stakeholders rate companies on a wide range of performance measures.

And this January, 100 national and regional KOLs were asked to evaluate more than 30 sales force, corporate equity and product/R&D performance measures (see Box 1). The goal was to determine which metrics are the most important to these physicians and, moreover, which best drive company performance, customer satisfaction and a positive customer experience. Another key objective was to better understand which companies KOLs consider to be "image leaders" in oncology.1

Box 1 – Company image performance measures

Sales: the company has sales reps…

  • with extensive therapeutic knowledge
  • who are knowledgeable about their own products
  • who provide objective data
  • who respect competitive products
  • who are responsive to my requests
  • who provide valuable information to me
  • who respect my time
  • who respect my staff's time
  • with whom I can have long-term relationships

Products/R&D: the company…

  • is increasing its strength in the field of oncology
  • has innovative R&D programmes
  • conducts clinical trials that yield results I can depend on
  • facilitates physicians' participation in relevant company-sponsored clinical trials
  • keeps me current on research for new indications
  • is developing products that would most benefit my patients
  • provides good opportunities to participate in clinical studies

Corporate equity: the company…

  • has a strong reputation in the field of oncology
  • communicates consistent marketing messages
  • is a desirable firm with which to collaborate as a speaker or consultant
  • is one I can trust
  • provides a broad range of treatments and/or supportive therapies
  • does a good job helping to facilitate drug reimbursement
  • provides patient assistance/indigent patient programmes that are easy to use
  • provides useful educational material for patients
  • provides useful educational material for physicians
  • sponsors events such as speaker programmes and dinner meetings that I find helpful
  • sponsors useful continuing medical education (CME) programmes/opportunities for physicians
  • provides valuable information at major oncology and/or haematology conferences
  • provides fair market value compensation for my time
  • values my contributions as a key opinion leader
  • provides good opportunities for speaking engagements

Source: Market Strategies International

Genentech the overwhelming leader

Genentech was found to be the clear winner among the 15 leading oncology companies evaluated. The company markets a range of beneficial cancer products, such as Avastin (bevacizumab), Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Rituxan (rituximab), and it is an acknowledged leader in this area of science. But, according to this KOL study, Genentech's performance is also explained by the company's ability to deliver the kinds of services expected by these demanding and unique stakeholders.

Genentech's lead is so significant that it occupies a "tier" of its own, with an overall score of 82.8 out of 100 (see Figure 1). The second tier comprises Novartis, Amgen, Lilly, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis, which also performed well across a number of metrics; scores in this group of companies ranged from 72.3 (Sanofi-Aventis) to 76.4 (Novartis).

Looking broadly at the corporate equity, sales force, and product/R&D image metrics, Genentech, Novartis, Lilly, Amgen and Pfizer finished high up the list (see Table 1). Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca might be concerned about their respective ninth and tenth place rankings in terms of product/R&D; on this measure, the study placed the two companies behind Celgene and Takeda/Millennium, firms more associated with haematology products rather than oncology. (While Millennium is described as "Takeda's oncology company", its primary customers are haematologists.)

In cancer, Johnson & Johnson/Ortho Biotech's reliance on a single product, the erythropoiesis-stimulating agent Procrit (epoetin-alfa), places it last among the 15 companies evaluated in this study.

Table 1: Companies' rankings by key performance measures

Ranking

Sales

Products/R&D

Corporate equity

1

Genentech

Genentech

Genentech

2

Novartis

Novartis

Novartis

3

Lilly

Amgen

Amgen

4

Amgen

Lilly

Sanofi-Aventis

5

Pfizer

Pfizer

Lilly

6

Sanofi-Aventis

Celgene

Pfizer

7

Takeda/Millennium

GlaxoSmithKline

AstraZeneca

8

Celgene

Takeda/Millennium

GlaxoSmithKline

9

GlaxoSmithKline

Sanofi-Aventis

Bristol-Myers Squibb

10

Bristol-Myers Squibb

AstraZeneca

Roche

11

AstraZeneca

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Takeda/Millennium

12

Roche

Roche

Celgene

13

Eisai/MGI Pharma

Bayer Healthcare

Bayer Healthcare

14

Bayer Healthcare

Eisai/MGI Pharma

Eisai/MGI Pharma

15

Johnson & Johnson/Ortho Biotech

Johnson & Johnson/Ortho Biotech

Johnson & Johnson/Ortho Biotech

Source: Market Strategies International

Within the product/R&D performance measure, KOLs rated innovative R&D, the development of beneficial products and increasing strength in oncology as the most important drivers of image. The top 10 companies in terms of overall MSImage performed well on each of these attributes, with Genentech again demonstrating a clear lead (see Figure 2). Moreover, the data show that those companies that have been active in the oncology marketplace for a number of years enjoy a competitive advantage over some of the "newer" entrants, such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline.

why image should matter

Companies that understand which metrics have the greatest impact on a KOL's experience and, in turn, perform well on those metrics will derive the benefits of a strong image performance. The authors' work with office- and hospital-based oncologists, nurses and practice managers have demonstrated that image leaders can drive stronger "engagement" behaviours with their customers. In oncology, those engagement behaviours are central to establishing a positive customer experience.

Thus for a company to be considered a leader in oncology by cancer KOLs, it must obviously be a top performer in product development and innovative R&D, while at the same time delivering the kinds of services and programmes that establish a positive experience with physicians.

Genentech's performance in this study serves as a lesson to the rest of the cancer-focused pharma industry. The company has emerged as the image leader in oncology among KOLs principally because of its innovative pipeline. Those innovations provide Genentech with opportunities to manage itself as a forward-thinking, science-driven company that delivers both valuable and objective information, while supporting KOL research needs.

And while delivering on the science is critical, so too is providing a positive customer experience across a multitude of touch points. Given Genentech's strong pipeline of oncology products that will be launched around 2012 and beyond, Roche's recent acquisition is not expected to serve as a barrier to Genentech's continued strategy for leadership in this therapy area.

References

1. Market Strategies International. 'MSImage: The Image of Oncology Companies Among US KOLs', February 2009.

Peter Carlin is senior vice-president of Market Strategies International's healthcare industry group and Dr Ellen Gordon is a research director in the healthcare group. Email: peter.carlin@marketstrategies.com or ellen.gordon@marketstrategies.com.

You may also be interested in...



NeuClone’s Trastuzumab Trial Succeeds

NeuClone has reported that its NeuCeptin proposed biosimilar trastuzumab has successfully met all primary and secondary endpoints in a Phase I clinical trial.

EMA Prepares Approval Verdict On Beovu, Idhifa, Recarbrio

Products from Novartis, Celgene and Merck could get an EU approval recommendation at this week's CHMP meeting.

New Zealand Reverse-Switches Codeine Judging Risks Outweigh Benefits

New Zealand is the latest country to reverse-switch all codeine-containing OTC drugs to prescription-only status following a protracted consultation process, during which industry's protestations fell on deaf ears.

Topics

Related Companies

UsernamePublicRestriction

Register

SC002035

Ask The Analyst

Please Note: Click here for more information on the Ask the Analyst service.

Your question has been successfully sent to the email address below and we will get back as soon as possible. my@email.address.

All fields are required.

Please make sure all fields are completed.

Please make sure you have filled out all fields

Please make sure you have filled out all fields

Please enter a valid e-mail address

Please enter a valid Phone Number

Ask your question to our analysts

Cancel