Launching a New Drug in a Category with Generic Alternatives

6-Company News

Getting an innovative prescription drug approved for patient use is a significant milestone – however, it's only the beginning and certainly does not ensure the brand's commercial success. Considering it typically takes ten years and over $2.6 billion for a life sciences manufacturer to move a drug from its initial discovery into the marketplace, commercialization teams must employ effective launch strategies that differentiate their brand to get it into the hands of patients.

Launching into a category with generic alternatives presents a unique challenge because payers often limit patients' access to the new entrant through utilization management tools that favor the lower-cost generics. Given that considerable investment has already been made to make the drug available to patients, it's up to the commercial team to develop a go-to-market model that optimizes patient access by delivering the product at an affordable cost to patients and positioning it for a positive return on investment. To do so, it’s critical that the therapy receives placement on formulary and is covered at a high percentage when dispensed at the pharmacy.

There are four strategic considerations that pharmaceutical commercialization teams should keep in mind – and technology-enabled patient access support can serve as a critical tool for an organization looking to establish its brand in a category with generic alternatives successfully.

1. Take stock of the current payer landscape

In a recent webinar hosted by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, a panel of experts agreed that “there was a call for smarter spending on medicines, not just more spending” and “there will be continued pressures to control costs of drugs, push the development of biosimilars, and reduce barriers for entry of generics.” It is imperative for pharmaceutical manufacturers preparing to launch a product to be aware of the impact these factors will likely have on the success of their brand.

Life science companies can greatly enhance their chances of launch success by comprehensively analyzing the competition. Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing generic alternatives enables commercialization teams to identify opportunities for differentiation and innovation, including filling gaps in the current treatment offerings. These unmet needs could range from efficacy limitations, to delivery methods, as well as adverse effects and patient adherence issues. Delivering on an unmet need is critical if the brand ultimately hopes to secure placement on a high percentage of formularies without offering astronomical reimbursements.

An in-depth understanding of payer and provider dynamics is perhaps most important in today’s value-based, cost-sensitive environment. Knowing how different payers leverage formulary tools to influence market access in the therapeutic area is crucial. With this knowledge, brand teams can align their pricing strategies, develop compelling value propositions, and establish mutually beneficial partnerships with key stakeholders.

2. Differentiate the new branded therapy

The stakes are high, with pharmaceutical manufacturers facing diminishing returns on research and development and increasing payer utilization management controls. Strategic product differentiation, particularly in competitive categories, is critical to mitigating risk and improving the probability of success. The promise of positive patient outcomes alone is insufficient.

Payers require manufacturers to prove the real-world value of their brands, which means that patients need to be able to access and adhere to therapy. When data is an integral part of your strategy, you can better understand patient needs and show how yourbrand uniquely solves unmet problems, such as enhanced tolerability, convenience, greater safety, or reduced healthcare costs.

Your channel strategy should underpin the deployment of the brand’s overall commercialization strategy by creating a post-launch infrastructure that substantiates its value beyond efficacy. Marketing and educational campaigns targeted toward healthcare providers and patients should create awareness of the therapy’s unique benefits and help position it as a valuable and preferred treatment option.

3. Forge strong relationships with key stakeholders

By actively collaborating and communicating with key stakeholders throughout the drug launch and beyond, pharmaceutical manufacturers can build trust, credibility, and lasting partnerships, which will increase the chances of brand success. Here are several ways to forge strong relationships:

  • Approach payers and PBMs as partners in achieving better patient outcomes

  • Develop payer-centric value messages

  • Provide educational resources for providers and patients

  • Partner with healthcare providers through a dedicated field team

  • Support prescribers’ office staff on addressing UM requirements

  • Engage with patient advocacy groups and organizations

  • Offer patient-centered services to facilitate access and medication adherence

4. Optimize drug launch execution

To ensure a successful launch of a brand in a therapeutic category with cheaper generic alternatives, commercialization teams should take the following steps:

  1. Develop a targeted launch plan based on steps 1-3

  2. Implement competitive pricing and contracting strategies that maximize coverage

  3. Make the most of your manufacturer-sponsored financial assistance program

  4. Equip the field team to drive brand adoption and coverage

  5. Establish metrics to monitor the launch and efficacy of your access program

Realize the full potential of your therapy in a competitive marketplace

Launching a brand is more challenging than ever, especially when competing against lower-cost alternative therapies. More than one of three new drug launches fall short of expectations – don’t let yours be one of them. By understanding the competitor and payer landscapes, strategically differentiating your product, building solid relationships with stakeholders, and optimizing launch execution, your brand can reach its full potential and expected value.

The PhilRx Patient Access Platform is the first end-to-end pharmaceutical commercialization platform that helps brands unlock coverage and maximize reimbursement. Patients have access to a nationwide partner pharmacy network that allows them to receive prescribed therapy quickly, conveniently, and affordably. Additionally, our deep integration with our partner pharmacies allows us to ensure that branded therapies are dispensed as intended. PhilRx simplifies prior authorizations and supports manufacturer-driven coupon utilization. Real-time insights give our manufacturer partners strategic visibility across the prescription journey and enable you to make responsive changes to your business rules. Reach out today to learn more!

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