Gamifying Pharma

How to improve patient adherence and develop relationships with consumers – GENERICS TAKE NOTE!

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Drug vending machines


Prescription & OTC vending machine! The future of convenience without expensive pharmacists?! –

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Obama helps to grow Teva profits

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The Power of Payers

I think we can all agree that Technology is going to change the face of most industries in the next decade; so this time we will look at something of concern to Pharma today and tomorrow
– Who is going to pay for the drugs?
– What do they want in return?
– What will they do with this power?
Ultimately there are only 2 payers; the consumer and the government.
– Consumers via insurance, taxes or direct payments (e.g OTC)
– Government via healthcare benefits
Of course, the consumers are in reality only able to influence the industry through their purchasing habits; so this is mainly concerned with OTC’s.
However, as technology gives consumers access to more data (side effects, efficacy, clinical studies, patient comments, expert analysis…), they will increasingly request or at least influence, the Rx drugs they receive too.
The government is able to issue unilateral changes; one’s that can alter the fundamental constructs of the industry, simply with a swipe of a constitutional pen.
This is especially worrying for the generic industry; who’s has the voice of a mouse compared to the roar of Big Pharma when it comes to affecting government policy decisions. This is a topic for another day.
Despite paying taxes into a health system, the consumer has relatively little influence over how the government uses it. If they don’t agree, they vote in someone else who they hope might make better use of it. Healthcare is of course a key agenda item, as Mr Obama has found; giving free healthcare to those who need it isn’t as straightforward as one might hope.
Insurance companies. Now these guys have some serious power!
They take the patient money and spend it for them or at least tell the consumer how they are allowed to spend it. They hold massive purse strings.
In Germany they even hold tenders, making pharma companies bid to supply them at the lowest price. Helping the insurance companies make fat profits, which they pass onto the consumer as savings…. hmmmm.
So how will it be in the future, 10 years from now?
There are clear trends that need to be considered:
1) Patients demand access to medicine and want to know what is best for them
2) Governments need to reduce their healthcare bills
3) Insurance companies want to make bigger profits
With aging global populations and expensive gene therapies; will any government be able to sustain a ‘free’ healthcare system?
Will countries set up agreements for offshore healthcare or approved internet GP’s who write scrips in whatever country they reside?
Will insurance companies merge with drug distributors to drive efficiencies, supply chain security and reduce fraud? Oh yeah, increase profits too!
Could we see multinational insurance companies undertake international tenders?
Will manufacturers have to join together and form virtual distribution to meet global supply conditions?
Will big pharma offer broader insurance schemes to help patients pay for new drugs and block out new generics?
Will consumers pick the generic manufacturer they see best fits them? Will generic companies needs green credentials, ethical policies and community schemes?
Will medical tourism & postal prescriptions effect where generics are bought?
Will you be ready?
What is in your strategy to stay ahead of the curve?
Next time… the Power of Distributors
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Mylan President talks about future of generics

Heather Bresch on Mylan results and coping with the changes

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Is this the future of drug discovery?

Using the crowd to cure cancer?!

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Last time we considered the potential impact of Personalised Medicine; how it will play to the strengths of Big Pharma and could wipeout profits in the generic sector.

Technology (broadly speaking) provides a lot more opportunities that threats I believe; over and above the potential of Digital Engagement as discussed previously.

Technology of recent times has focused on our ability to be connected.

Not just to each other, but to objects too. Our computers, mobile phones, vehicles, buildings, entertainment & educational systems.

We connect and share our location, our shopping habits, our preferences. Our data being transported via phone networks, wireless internet and bluetooth technologies; analysed, segmented and redistributed by servers ‘in the cloud’.

Personal devices have become a vital component of our daily lives. No longer content to have singular specific functions; today’s ‘smart’ devices are the lifeblood of our communication, organisation, entertainment and most importantly, our connection to our digital existence. Our personal and professional lives increasingly depend on our ownership and utility of a smart phone, tablet pc or netbook.

The explosive adoption of personal devices has had a similarly significant impact on the application of technology in business. The cost, size and power of processors, transponders and data storage is such that the dreams of yesterday can be reality tomorrow.

Consider some ideas from the recent mHealth Summit

  • Patient communications
  • Access to web based resources
  • Point of care
  • Disease management
  • Point of care education
  • Professional communication
  • Administrative applications
  • Financial apps
  • Ambulance/EMS
  • Public health
  • Research
  • Body area network applications

All sounds very exciting (or scary!), but what does it have to do with generics?!

In a similar way to personalised medicine; big pharma is currently best positioned to capitalise on the powerful connection that patient diagnosis, caring, education and communication will undoubtedly achieve.

In certain markets and certain demographics, there is already a patient resistance to generics. In certain countries even GP’s and Pharmacists still have a reservation.

If Big Pharma gains a stronghold in mHealth and other efficacious technologies; where will the generic industry fit in? Will lower cost drugs actually be enough to break into a tightly woven scheme of data, treatment and patient relationships?

There is a clear pathway for the tight collaboration of technology and healthcare; the generic industry in the main seems to steer clear; stubborn in the belief that cost will always win out. If the status quo changes; will the generic industry have sufficient experience, connections, innovation and whatever else (money?!) to have an impact in the new world?

If there is a real belief that technology will indeed fundamentally change healthcare; what is the first step that the generic industry can take to ensure it isn’t left in the wake of Big Pharma?

How long can the industry wait until it makes a move? Or is it too late already?

Contribute your thoughts here, or on our LinkedIn Group: Generic Pharma 2.0

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25% of LinkedIn connections changed job in 2010?!

Well thats what I’m told… sounds crazy to me… maybe most people just updated their profiles?!

See my 2200 connections

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Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine is a medical model emphasizing the customization of healthcare; with all decisions and practices being tailored to individual patients in whatever ways possible.

This ‘model’ is quickly showing signs of becoming the default platform for the development of medicine, diagnostics, patient care, government healthcare and physician education.

It’s a huge understatement to say this movement has massive implications for the generic drug industry.

Already an estimated $12bn industry (telemedicine, eRecords, disease management); it is expected to grow to over $100bn by 2015.

Already it is showing its power. Physicians are using pharmacogenetics to tailor the dose of Warfarin after understanding that side effects are the result generic variation. Saving lives.

Consider the stake-holders and their motivations:

1) Government – preventative treatment reduces the burden on the healthcare infrastructure; creates a more productive population and likely a happier one!

2) Fee payers – genetic diagnostics might be expensive now, but once data is collected it can be used to prevent future costs and enable cost:risk calculations. Insurance premiums or taxes could be determined by our genes.

3) Physicians – the potential for improved patient care! They will have to be trained in genomics in order to best use the abundance of new data available to guide treatments. Prevention services will have to replace lost revenue; but philosophically better all round.

4) Big pharma – partnering or integrating the leading diagnostic companies will help justify the big R&D budgets all over again. Creating a platform to tie this unique data to patients, physicians & insurers is a dream come true.

How can a generic be created if a drug is specifically designed for a single patient?

Especially if the genomic data is collected by a commercially involved party; the patient is being incentivized by a connected insurance company and the physician is being paid by the government to provide preventative services, supported by the drug company (naturally).

Of course there will always (we hope!) be drugs that are effective across a broad patient population. Given the likely competition over a decreasing market opportunity; who will make enough money to sustain a business? Only the biggest and strongest no doubt.

If you don’t have a strategy to become a giant of the industry; there are other options:

– Preventative & Wellness products
– Diagnostics (expected to be a $5bn business soon)
– Gyms and spa’s!

It would seem that unless the generic industry can find a way to enter this space (e.g investing in research to show the effectiveness of drugs across a range of genetic variations that big pharma suggests is not ‘recommended’), then the generic industry will have to find another path to sustainability.

Next time… ‘Technology’

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Digital Engagement

Opportunities and threats: Digital Engagement

Having made it quite clear that (I believe) there is a startling amount of head-burying with regard to the future health of the industry; now it is time to discuss the key challenges on the horizon.

Digital engagement – the business-to-business (B2B) version of social media and everything to do with connecting online.

Think Facebook is for teenagers? Twitter is only for ego-centric celebrities? Smart phone apps purely for big brands? Blogs only for geeks with no personal skills?

WRONG! (You couldn’t be more mistaken in fact)

Yes, consumers are the primary target for most digital engagement tools right now; mainly because the big brands want to reach the mass market and social media is the new effective channel.

However, as the world gets used to using web/mobile based communication and receiving live, always-on information; there will be (already is!) an expectation for B2B engagement to be the same.

Consider the advances and social expectation of the past 3 years and then look forward another 10… yup, what is the point in pretending its not going to affect your company, your job, you life?!

How does it apply to generic pharma?
Typically our sector is used to distinct, well trodden paths of marketing and communication. A companies position in the industry is usually well defined and its activities pigeon-holed; equally its geographical reach is determined by its personal business development networks.

The generic company of the future (tomorrow!) is going to have to consider a different modus operandi; whether large or small, competing for profits is going to require innovation and differentiation.

Consider the following scenario’s:

ePatient demand – the ePatient is growing in population and power. This digital self-helper will only accept drugs from companies it trusts and has a connection with. Even in countries where advertising of pharmaceuticals is prohibited; awareness within this massive group will be critical to success. Pharmacy chains, distributors and wholesalers will select suppliers based on ePatient feedback scores; the lower the score, the lower the purchase price. A generic will no longer be just a generic; quality & ethics will be closely evaluated as part of an ePatient request decision. Market positioning will be essential and ePatients demand the highest standards of data, transparency and technological innovation.

Pharmacy power – considered a threat to the big brands, but could be for generics too. Despite the prevalence of pharmacy chains who centralise purchasing of drugs; there is a highly significant proportion of independents from which large revenues can be found. They do not sign big supplier contracts, instead buying on demand; selecting suppliers on price of course, but also on confidence in delivering the best product for their close knit group of customers/patients. These business owners seek to utilise new technology to add value and reduce costs; always looking for new ways to grow their operations. They will seek out suppliers providing tools and services that help them: pricing data, product information, proof of origin, management apps, marketing tools and much more.

eDevelopment – the pharma industry is already global; partnerships and supply chains stretch around the globe. However, as Big Pharma continues to develop a matrix of R&D relationships, so the generic sector will evolve more sophisticated commercial connections. Web3.0 will enable collaboration on a corporate scale; organisational borders will merge and true co-efficiencies will emerge. API & Formulation labs will share live data; production and IP departments will contribute to NPD projects; marketing and corporate management will feed information into virtual forums.
New partners will be located and integrated via web tools; corporate profiles and video conferencing will reduce the need for face-to-face meetings before project initiation. R&D work will be undertaken by on-demand micro-teams with specialist skill sets; location is no longer considered an issue.

All of these likely scenario’s require a different approach to the use of internet technologies and online operations; raising questions such as:

– How will buyers, suppliers and stakeholders be engaged?
– What kind of partnerships should be worked on right now?
– Is the company strategy aligned with the likely future?
– What haven’t we started work on differentiation already?!

Obviously digital engagement is both an opportunity and a threat.
Those ahead of the game will develop the necessary network and know-how to turn it into a key business driver. Those who don’t, will play catch up and realise that credibility cannot be built overnight or bought like a new product.

Is your company already thinking about Generic Pharma 2.0?

Technological advancements or market forces could bring about the scenario’s year earlier; will you be left behind?

Next time: Personalised Medicine

Want to discuss the future of the generic industry; email me:

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