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Marketing Medicines: Going Boldly and Accessibly for Rx

Over the past two weeks, we see two marketing campaigns emerge to market medicines: first, from the branded pharmaceutical association PhRMA, the #GoBoldly initiative with a theme of innovation and personalized medicine. Second, there’s a campaign from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), rebranding the organization as the Association for Accessible Medicines with the tagline, “keep medicines in reach.” What’s this all about? To put these marketing initiatives in context, let’s start with the publication of Express Scripts 2016 Drug Trend Report. “Drug trend” is short-hand for growth in prescription drug spending, year on year. The first graph illustrates the price index

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A Growing Medicines Bill for Global Health Consumers to 2021

The global market for spending on medicines will high $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to the latest forecast from QuintilesIMS. Drug spending grew about 9% in the past two years, and is expected to moderate to 4 to 7 percent annually over the next five years. That dramatic 9% growth was heavily driven by new (expensive) specialty drugs to treat Hepatitis C (e.g., Harvoni and Sovaldi) and cancer therapies that hit the market in the past couple of years. There will be a “healthy level” of new innovative meds coming out of the drug pipeline in the next several years

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PhRMA vs. Employers: Healthcare Costs In the Eye of the Beholder

In the past week, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the advocacy organization for the branded prescription drug industry, published Medicines: Costs in Context,” the group’s lens on the value of prescription drugs in the larger healthcare economy. Their view: that prescription drug costs comprise a relatively low share of health care spending in America, and a high-value one at that. PhRMA contends that 10% of the health care dollar was allocated to prescription drugs in 2015, the same proportion as in 1960. “Even with new treatments for hepatitis C, high cholesterol and cancer, spending on retail prescription

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Financial Toxicity: The High Cost of Cancer Drugs in the U.S.

Two news items published in the past week point to the yin/yang of cancer survivorship and the high prices of cancer drugs. The good news: a record number of people in the US are surviving cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. That number is 15.5 million Americans, according to a study in the cancer journal CA. Note the demographics of cancer survivors: One-half are 70 years of age and older 56% were diagnosed in the past ten years, and one-third in the past 5 years Women were more likely to have had breast cancer (3.5 mm), uterine cancer (757,000),

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Big and Bigger Pharma – Politics, Pricing and Patients

Pressures on the pharmaceutical industry are coming from every stakeholder touchpoint, driving companies to merge, set prices high for short-term gains, and (finally) put more resources toward providing patients services. Let’s call out just a few of the events from the past couple of weeks which, together, paint the current rocky landscape for pharma and life science companies: Last week on April 28th, termed “healthcare’s $45 billion day,” three big M&A deals hit the financial markets: Abbott sought to acquire St. Jude Medical (worth $30 bn alone), AbbVie looked to buy Stemcentrx for just under $6 bn, and Sanofi tagged

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Expect Double-Digit Rx Cost Growth to 2020 – Implications for Oncology

In the U.S., spending on prescription medicines reached $425 bn in 2015, a 12% increase over 2014. For context, that Rx spending comprised about 14% of the American healthcare spend (based on roughly $3 trillion reported in the National Health Expenditure Accounts in 2014). We can expect double-digit prescription drug cost growth over the next five years, according to forecasts in Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S. – A Review of 2015 and Outlook to 2020 from IMS Institute of Healthcare Informatics. The biggest cost growth driver is specialty medicines, which accounted for $151 bn of the total Rx spend

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The Rise and Rise of (Specialty) Prescription Drug Prices

Prices for the most commonly used branded prescription drugs grew from a base index of $100 in 2008 to to $264 in 2015, based on the Express Scripts 2015 Drug Trend Report. This is illustrated by the upwardly-sloping blue line in the chart. In contrast, the market basket of the most commonly used generic drugs fell from the $100 index in 2008 to $29.73, shown by the declining black line in the graph. The $112.05 is calculated from a market basket of commonly purchased household goods which cost $100 in 2008, a relatively flat line which puts the 264% rise in

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Prescription Drug Costs Will Be In Health Benefits Bullseye in 2016

Prescription drug costs have become a front-and-center health benefits cost issue for U.S. employers in 2015, and in 2016 the challenge will be directly addressed through more aggressive utilization management (such as step therapy and prior authorization), tools to enable prescription intentions like DUR, and targeting fraud, waste and abuse. Consumers, too, will be more financially responsible for cost-sharing prescription drugs, in terms of deductibles and annual out-of-pocket limits, as described in the PBMI 2015-206 Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Report, sponsored by Takeda. The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute has published this report for 15 years, which provides neutral, detailed survey

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U.S. Consumers’ View of Pharma Goes Negative in 2015

Americans’ views of the pharmaceutical industry have fallen in the past year, with negative perceptions outweighing positive ones, shown in the line graph from the Gallup Poll. Pharma’s low-lying reputation among consumers sits among others including the legal field, healthcare, oil and gas, and the Federal government which ranked lowest across all 25 sectors Gallup analyzed. Gallup surveyed 1,011 U.S. adults in in the first week of August 2015 via telephone. Since 2003, Gallup notes, the pharma industry has consistently ranked in the bottom third of industries operating in the U.S. Pharma respect is in the eye of the consumer-beholder

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Collaboration in health/care drives value – in & beyond bio/pharma

“Tomorrow [drug makers] may not get paid for the molecule, they may only get paid for the outcome,” expects Brian Niznik of Qualcomm Life. He’s quoted in a report from PwC’s Health Research Institute, 21st Century Pharmaceutical Collaboration: The Value Convergence. What Brian’s comment recognizes is the growing value-based environment for healthcare, which couples purchasers driving down drug costs via discounts and stringent formulary (approved drug list) contracts, and growing patient responsibility for paying for prescription drugs — especially financially costly for specialty drugs that are new-new molecules. But as Brian points out, if the high-cost molecule doesn’t perform as

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Doctors who write right: Gawande, Topol and Wachter put people at the center of health/care

There’s a trifecta of books written by three brilliant doctors that, together, provide a roadmap for the 21st century continuum of health care: The Patient Will See You Now by Eric Topol, MD; The Digital Doctor from Robert Wachter, MD; and, Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. Each book’s take provides a lens, through the eyes of a hands-on healthcare provider, on healthcare delivery today (the good, the warts and all) and solutions based on their unique points-of-view. This triple-review will move, purposefully, from the digitally, technology optimistic “Gutenberg moment” for democratizing medicine per Dr. Topol, to the end-game importance of

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Specialty pharmaceuticals’ costs in the health economic bulls-eye

This past weekend, 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl asked John Castellani, the president of PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s advocacy (lobby) organization, why the cost of Gleevec, from Novartis, dramatically increased over the 13 years it’s been in the market, while other more expensive competitors have been launched in the period. (Here is the FDA’s announcement of the Gleevec approval from 2001). Mr. Castellani said he couldn’t respond to specific drug company’s pricing strategies, but in general, these products are “worth it.” Here is the entire transcript of the 60 Minutes’ piece. Today, Health Affairs, the policy journal, is hosting a discussion

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Dr Eric Topol on the digital democratization of health care

Moore’s Law is coming to medicine. And it will look and feel a lot like Uber: with rich technology underpinning,  consumer-service oriented and friendly, and shaking up the professionals at the front line of the business (from taxi drivers to physicians). Eric Topol, physician and editor-in-chief at Medscape, told a standing-room-only audience at the kickoff of the 8th annual Health 2.0 Conference that the democratization of health care is coming based on consumers’ use of eight drivers: sensors, labs, imaging, physical exams, access to medical records, transparency of costs, and digital pills. Dr. Topol referred to the cover ot TIME

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Practice Fusion joins the open health data community with Insight

Open data is a growing trend in health care. Analyzing data sets across lots and lots of people can help researchers identify medical cures, anticipate epidemics, and solve knotty problems where social and behavioral issues complicate clinical questions and solutions. Joining the open health data community is the health IT company Practice Fusion, which is sharing with the public aggregated data on some 81 million patients collected through over 100,000 active users every month recording patient data in the company’s cloud-based electronic health records system. Insight, the searchable database, is freely available to people, researchers, policymakers, and anyone who wants to look at top line

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Pharma warming up to the cloud to drive efficiencies and support analytics

Over the next few years, large global pharma companies will need to wring out an additional $35 billion worth of efficiencies in order to drive profitability. While the industry has most of the patent cliff challenge behind it, companies face price constraints with respect to health reform, static national economies, and access demands. As the pharmaceutical industry enters the value-based health care era, the industry must catch up with other vertical markets in adopting information technology. In particular, pharma has been slower to migrate to the cloud than other businesses, with concerns about security and health care particular needs. Today, the

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Digital health is hot at South-by-Southwest #SXSH

Today kicked off the 2014 South-by-Southwest Festival (#SXSW) in Austin, TX, running until March 16 and featuring dozens of sessions, concerts, video, and fireside chats in music, film and interactive segments. I’ll be involved in an interactive session on Tuesday called “The Digital Health Bubble – Is It About to Burst?” This panel includes Marc Monseau (@MDMonseau) who is a pioneer in health and social media (building J&J’s early leadership in social health online); Marco Smit (@MrHealth20) who leads Health 2.0 Advisors and is a veteran strategist in several health/tech companies; and, Robert Stern, Founder/CEO of @PointofCare, a health IT platform that

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When health care costs are a side effect

4 in 5 U.S. patients – 81% of them – want an equal say in health care decisions with their care provider, according to a 2013 Institute of Medicine study. At the same time, patients choose to take “drug holidays,” opting out of taking three or more doses of medicines in a row, or adopt “trail mix” approaches to taking prescriptions, casually and inappropriately mixing Rx drugs. Welcome to your world, pharma industry: where people say they want control, but somehow don’t exercise it in the way you — drug companies — define as “compliance” or “adherence.” Customer experience in

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Getting to health engagement will require more than a patient portal

Patient and health engagement is the flavor du jour in health circles these days, from the corridors of hospitals to the caffeinated marketing meetings in Big Pharma’s east coast meet-ups. But there’s no standard agreement on what we mean by peoples’ health engagement, whether by patient or well consumer. In Market Insights: The Evolution of Consumer Engagement in Health Care, Porter Research endeavors to deepen our understanding of this important concept. In the introductory section of the paper, “Understanding Engagement,” Porter proffers that industry – providers, payers and employers – consider engagement as “changing consumer behavior through increased participation in consumers’ own health

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Delaying aging to bend the cost-curve: balancing individual life with societal costs

Can we age more slowly? And if so, what impact would senescence — delaying aging — have on health care costs on the U.S. economy? In addition to reclaiming $7.1 trillion over 50 years, we’d add an additional 2.2 years to life expectancy (with good quality of life). This is the calculation derived in Substantial Health And Economic Returns From Delayed Aging May Warrant A New Focus For Medical Research, published in the October 2013 issue of Health Affairs. The chart graphs changes in Medicare and Medicaid spending in 3 scenarios modeled in the study: when aging is delayed, more people qualify

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People not up-close-and-personal about personalized medicine…yet

Only 1 in 4 U.S. adults over 30 know what “personalized medicine” (PM) really is, and only 8% of people feel very knowledgeable about the concept based on Consumer Perspectives on Personalized Medicine from GfK, published online in August 2013. GfK surveyed 602 online adults 30 years and over between February and March 2013 drawn from the company’s KnowledgePanel sample of U.S. adults. Only 4% of people who have heard of personalized medicine describe it accurately as “medicine based on genome/genetic make up.” About one-half of people (52%) defined PM as medical care, treatment, or medicine geared toward individual needs. The poll

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The decline and fall of pharmaceutical spending…short- or long-term phenomenon?

The prescription drug cost curve is bending…for the time being. Spending on medicines fell by 3.5% in 2012 and will continue to fall below overall health spending over the next five years to 2017. But different from general health spending, there’s a new game in town called specialty medicines, and they cost a whole lot more than the generics and the aging brands that bent the cost curve in 2012. The declining Rx spending story is only part of a complicated tale told in great detail in a comprehensive report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, Declining Medicine Use

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FDA goes DTP(atient)

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) launched its new website for and about patients, the Patient Network, with the tagline, “Bringing your voice to drug and device approval and safety.” With this move, the FDA moves toward social health, someplace where at least one-third of U.S. consumers already opine, shop, share personal info, crowdsource cures, and support each other on all-matters-health-and-illness. The objective of the Patient Network is, “to help FDA help patients have a bigger voice.” Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the Commissioner of the FDA, talks about the concept here. The rationale? “When patients better understand the intricacies of how

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1 in 5 US consumers asks a doctor for a lower-cost Rx

  With U.S. health consumers spending $45 billion out-of-pocket for prescription drugs in 2011, pharmaceutical products are morphing into retail health products. As such, as they do with any other consumer good, consumers can vote with their feet by walking away from a product purchase or making the spend based on the price of the product and its attributes, along with whether there are substitutes available in the marketplace. When it comes to prescription drugs, it’s not as clear-cut, according to the Centers for Disease Control‘s analysis of data from the 2011 National Health Interview Survey titled Strategies Used by

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The value of big data in health care = $450 billion

  Exploiting Big Data in industry is Big News these days, and nowhere is the potential for leveraging the concept greater than in health care. McKinsey & Company estimates that harnessing big data across five dimensions of health care could yield nearly one-half trillion dollars’ worth of value in The ‘big data’ revolution in healthcare. The chart summarizes McKinsey’s calculations on the value of Big Data in health care at its maximum. Before digging into the value potential, just what is Big Data in health care? Statistics and information are generated in the health care system about patients: say, during visits

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Eric Topol creatively destroys medicine at #HIMSS13

Wearing his Walking Gallery jacket painted by (im)patient advocate, Regina Holliday, Dr. Eric Topol evangelized the benefits of digital medicine and consumer empowerment in health care, largely summarizing his epic (pun intended – wait for Hot Point, below) book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine. A founder of the West Wireless Health Institute (now known as West Health), Dr. Topol is a physician and researcher at Scripps and was recently named as editor at Medscape. A new piece of Topol Trivia for me is that GQ magazine called him a rock star of science. Dr. Topol is one of the more

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Wired health: living by numbers – a review of the event

Wired magazine, longtime evangelist for all-things-tech, has played a growing role in serving up health-tech content over the past several years, especially through the work of Thomas Goetz. This month, Wired featured an informative section on living by numbers — the theme of a new Wired conference held 15-16 October 2012 in New York City. This feels like the week of digital health on the east coast of the U.S.: several major meetings have convened that highlight the role of technology — especially, the Internet, mobile platforms, and Big Data — on health. Among the meetings were the NYeC Digital Health conference, Digital

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Growing demand for customer service…from Pharma

1 in 3 online consumers (36%) is interested in receiving customer service from the pharmaceutical industry. In particular, these engaged health consumers want contact, first and foremost, with a clinical expert associated with a pharmaceutical company: namely, a doctor or a nurse. In third place would be a patient advocate representing the pharmaceutical company. During the recording of a podcast this week hosted by Med Ad News‘s managing editor Josh Slatko, featuring Monique Levy, VP of Research at Manhattan Research, Adam Budish, SVP of Sales with Epocrates, and me, Monique mentioned this data point from the latest ePharma Consumer study conducted by

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Converging for health care: how collaborating is breaking down silos to achieve the Triple Aim

  On Tuesday, 9 July 2012, health industry stakeholders are convening in Philadelphia for the first CONVERGE conference, seeking to ignite conversation across siloed organizations to solve seemingly intractable problems in health care, together. Why “converge?” Because suppliers, providers, payers, health plans, and consumers have been fragmented for far too long based on arcane incentives that cause the U.S. health system to be stuck in a Rube Goldbergian knot of inefficiency, ineffectiveness and fragmentation of access….not to mention cost increases leading us to devote nearly one-fifth of national GDP on health care at a cost of nearly $3 trillion…and going up.

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Improving health care through Big Data: a meeting of the minds at SAS

Some 500 data analytics gurus representing the health care ecosystem including hospitals, physician practices, life science companies, academia and consulting came together on the lush campus of SAS in Cary, North Carolina, this week to discuss how Big Data could solve health care’s Triple Aim, as coined by keynote speaker Dr. Donald Berwick: improve the care experience, improve health outcomes, and reduce costs. Before Dr. Berwick, appointed as President Obama’s first head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, godfather of the theory of disruptive innovation in business, spokee about his journey

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What the FDA needs to know about Rx health consumers: most Americans see value in pharma-sponsored health social networks

In PwC‘s landmark report, Social Media “Likes” Healthcare, there’s a data point obscured by lots of great information generated by the firm’s survey of 1,060 U.S. adults: that over one-half of people value patient support groups and social networks with other patients that are offered by drug companies. Not surprisingly, U.S. consumers. who are taking on increasing financial responsibility to pay for health care products and services, also highly value discounts and coupons, and access to information that helps them find the “cheapest” medications — both favored by two-thirds of people. The report found, overall, that over one-third of U.S. adults

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Job #1 in data analytics for health care: get the data, and make sure you can trust it

The ability to get the data is the #1 obstacle that will slow the adoption of data analytics in health care, according to IBM’s report, The value of analytics in healthcare: from insights to outcomes. Healthcare “high performers,” as IBM calls them, use data analytics for guiding future strategy, product research and development, and sales and marketing functions. 90% of healthcare CIOs told IBM that developing “insight and intelligence” were key focuses of their organizations over the next 3 to 5 years. Underneath this macro objective are 3 business goals that data analytics addresses in healthcare: to improve clinical effectiveness

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Happy birthday, dear Watson: what the 1st anniversary means for health care today, and in future

IBM is celebrating the first birthday of Watson this week. I had the opportunity to brainstorm some of the short- and long-term meanings of Watson in health care this week at HIMSS 2012 in Las Vegas. When most people think of Watson, an image of the Jeopardy! game featuring the technology versus the legendary player Ken Jennings comes to mind. However, Watson has the potential to play a transformational role in health care, globally – for population health, and for the patient N=1. Watson is a supercomputer’s supercomputer: underneath the formidable hood are dozens of programs that enable Watson to

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Moving from operational efficiency to personalized healthcare value – IBM on redefining success in healthcare

A health system that’s built to last: this is the latest sound-bite echoing through health policy circles. The theme of sustainability is permeating all matters of policy, from education and business to health care. Enter IBM, with a rigorous approach to Redefining Value and Success in Healthcare: Charting the path to the future, from the group’s Healthcare and Life Sciences thinkers. What’s inspiring about this report is the team’s integrative thinking, bridging the relationship between operational effectiveness built on a robust information infrastructure that enables team-based care (the “collaboration” aspect in the middle of the pyramid), which then drive personalized healthcare

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Prescription drug spend in 2012: moving from “educating” patients to empowering them

The growth in prescription drug costs covered by employers and Rx plan sponsors are driving them to adopt a long list of utilization management and price-tiering strategies looking to 2012, according to the 2011-2012 Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Report, sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. The average drug trend for 2011 — that is, the average annual percentage increase in drug cost spending — was 5.5%, 1.5 percentage points greater than general price inflation of about 4%. The generic fill rate was 73% of prescription drugs purchased at retail. While drug price inflation is expected to increase in 2012, plan

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Patients feel out of the Rx drug development process: why participatory health in pharma is important

“Value” in prescription drugs is first and foremost about outcomes, in the eyes of physicians and biopharma. For managed care, “value” is first about safety, then patient outcomes. However, although one-third of patients managing a chronic condition cannot define “value” in health care, 9 in 10 say that prescription drugs are “valuable” to their health and wellbeing. In fact, 80% say that the money they spend on prescription medications is “worth it.” Yet patients feel largely out of the prescription drug development process. These findings come from Quintiles research report, The 2011 New Health Report, subtitled: exploring perceptions of value and collaborative relationships among

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Don’t assume generics will stop drug cost trends in 2012 and beyond: specialty drugs will drive growing Rx spending

In the 2011 Medco Drug Trend Report, there’s good news and bad news depending on the lens you wear as a health care stakeholder in the U.S. On the positive side of the ledger, for consumers, payers and health plan sponsors, drug trend in 2010 stayed fairly flat at 3.7% growth. That’s due in major part to the increasing roster of generic drugs taking the place of aging branded prescriptions products. More than $100 billion (with a ‘b’) worth of branded drugs will go off-patent between 2010 and 2020, and the generic dispensing rate could reach 85% by 2020, Medco

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Patient perspectives should be part of evidence-based medicine, Dr. Weil et al say

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been the rational cornerstone of medical decision making for decades. RCTs demonstrate a drug or therapeutic course’s efficacy – that is, the extent to which a specific intervention, procedure, or regimen produces a beneficial result under ideal conditions. Of course, how a particular therapy works in an individual is highly personalized based not only on a body’s biochemistry, but personal preferences, perceptions, and personality. That’s why Dr. Andrew Weil and his colleagues, Dr. Scott Shannon and Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, say that medical decision making should take into account the patient perspective. In Medical Decision Making in

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The patent cliff coupled with value-based health purchasing makes for declining branded pharma market in the U.S.

Two mega-trends are driving down branded pharmaceutical sales in the U.S.: switches from branded to generic prescription drug products for major chronic conditions; and, the lack of new-new branded Rx products that (could) command higher prices. A down-market picture emerges from The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010, based on market data analyzed by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics (IMS). While U.S. market growth for pharma overall ranges from 3% to 5%, IMS says, protected Rx brands were negatively impacted through the switch to cheaper generic substitutes. Generics now comprise 78% of pharma market share. The key sentence

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Branded prescription drug prices increased between 2006-2010 while generic prices fell

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 15 March 2011 in Bio/life sciences, Health Economics, Prescription drugs

The Federal government covers about $1 in every $3 of spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. That equates to $78 bn of the total $250 bn spent on Rx in 2009. Between 2006 and 2010, the indexed cost of the usual and customary price for commonly used branded prescription drugs grew by 8.3%; in that period the price of commonly used generic drugs fell by 2.6%. The General Accounting Office (GAO), those nonpartisan bean-counters in Washington DC, analyzed pricing trends of prescription drugs over the most recent five years, based on changes from first quarter to first quarter in each subsequent year. The GAO also

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Health innovation in the U.S. is ours to lose

The U.S. has few bright spots when accounting for global trade: we import much more than we export. Entertainment is America’s #1 export. After that, medical innovation shines. But the window on that lead is closing. 92% of Americans believe it’s important for the U.S. to be the global leader in medical innovation and research. And, most Americans believe the U.S. has been in a strong position in medical innovation, research and development, and technical innovation, especially for new cures and treatments for patients, and medical innovations that create jobs and drive economic growth; but a weakening position in science,

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When with the “Future of Health” happen?

It’s year-end, so the forecasts abound whether we’re talking about trends in technologies, products and services. Gartner says cloud and mobile computing are hot, but managing customer expectations will require heavy lifting  On the food front, Epicurious predicts that food halls will be all the rage (think Harrods in London or Takashimaya in Tokyo), Korean cuisine in demand, and sweet potatoes crowned the vegetable of 2011. For colors, Pantone is Queen and they see that honeysuckle (a salmon-pink) is the new black. In health technology, there’s no better list to read than CSC’s The Future of Healthcare: It’s Health, Then Care, which offers up top 10 technologies

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Social networks and life science companies: balancing regulation and risk aversion with opportunity

One in 3 managers in life science companies — including biotech, pharma, medical device and diagnostics firms — have no plans to engage with online social networks, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte. The key reasons for shying away from social networks include lack of guidelines offered by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), concerns about consumer privacy, and low or uncertain return on investment. On the other hand, 41% of life science execs already use social networks, and another 21% plan to do so. There are many benefits for life science companies in using online social networks, including using them for

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The new pharmaceutical consumer: in search of value and information

While two-thirds of American adults use the internet (including social media) to seek health information, only 11% use a pharmaceutical company website most often. It is intriguing that 2 in 3 adults who seek information about health care online are looking for information on illnesses and conditions from a pharmaceutical company. But the pharma company website isn’t the top-of-mind, go-to place. In fact, 2/3 of health citizens whose households use prescription drugs say their trust in medications is not heavily influenced by advertising by pharmaceutical companies.  These insights into the new pharmaceutical consumer come out of The Evolving  Consumer and The

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Prescription Drug Nation

In 2008, 2 in 3 people in the U.S. over 60 took 3 or more prescription drug medications in the past month, and 14% of kids 11 and under regularly took an Rx. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics latest issue brief on prescription drug use illustrates that prescription drugs are as much of American popular culture and life as fast-moving consumer goods. It’s the more intense use of Rx drugs, 5 or more, where the most significant growth has been since 1999-2000, when 6.3% of Americans took 5 or more prescription drugs in the past month. In 2007-8, the proportion

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Pharma-economics: retail drug prices rice, and consumers react

Two reports, from Consumers Union and the AARP, put the pharmaceutical industry in the spotlight again this week, and not in a good way. First, Consumer Reports polled U.S. adults who take prescription drugs and found that 39% took some action to reduce costs. 27% didn’t take the Rx as prescribed: 16% didn’t fill the prescription, 12% took a drug past its expiration date, and 4% shared a prescription with someone else. These and other survey findings are discussed in Consumers say big pharma influence on docs is concerning, published in the Consumer Reports Health Blog on August 24, 2010. Second, the AARP calculated

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Mobile health and the FDA: what WellDoc’s approval means for mHealth

WellDoc received approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on August 2 2010 to market the company’s DiabetesManager system. This signals the regulator’s openness to mobile health solutions — a market moment that may usher in the new-and-improved era of personal health management. DiabetesManager uses the mobile phone as a platform for patients with Type 2 diabetes to gather, store and communicate personal health data such as blood glucose measurements; these data then feed into WellDoc’s algorithms that communicate personalized health coaching support back to patients in real-time. This process creates a closed-loop system that helps bolster patients’ decisions and behaviors throughout the day. Health

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Consumers trust pharma ads on TV more than online

Most consumers give thumbs-up to “fair and balanced” information on risks and benefits delivered in prescription drug ads on TV. But online? Not so much. This finding comes from one of the most highly anticipated surveys in the pharma business, the annual Prevention Magazine consumer survey on direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC). The FDA takes this survey seriously and its results inform FDA approaches to regulation. The 13th annual poll was published on July 15, 2010, titled, Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Drugs. Most consumers find that “fair balance,” which is FDA required for presenting risks and benefits, is indeed “fair and balanced” on broadcast and in magazines. However,

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Health consumers don’t understand their patient-power…yet

Most health consumers define the value of drugs in terms of safety and efficacy first, then quality of life and cost second. These priorities are similarly shared by both biopharma executives and managed care management. Where consumers diverge with the two health industry stakeholders, though, is with respect to their power: while about 1 in 3 biopharma and managed care execs believe that patients will be influential in the success or failure of new therapies over the next five years, only 11% of patients say that “people like me” will be influential over what new drugs will be available in the

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Hate health care, love science and technology – consumers can't connect the dots

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 9 June 2010 in Bio/life sciences, Health Consumers

The most highly rated aspects of living in America are science and technology, The Constitution, quality of life, colleges and universities. What can’t get consumers’ respect are 4 systems of American life: the political system, the economic system, the education system, and the health care system. HarrisInteractive polled 2,503 Americans in May 2010 on how they felt about various elements of life in the U.S. Entertainment, movies and TV also rank high on Americans’ scorecard. Health Populi’s Hot Points: Roughly 2 in 3 Americans rate the nation’s health system fair or poor. While marginally more Republicans than Democrats like the U.S.

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Getting Americans to "right-size" health care: understanding evidence-based medicine

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Kids and specialty drugs drove up Rx spending in 2009 – and what food and phys ed can do

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The new consumer health advocate: the Pharmacist

90% of people seek help identifying over-the-counter medications (OTCs) that suit their conditions. 80% of people ask pharmacists for counsel regarding which OTCs would best fit with their prescription medications. The pharmacist plays a central, pivotal role in the American health ecosystem, based on these data points from the American Pharmacist Association’s (APhA) Pharmacy Today Over-the-Counter Product survey. In the Today’s perspective introducing the survey details, Dr. Stefanie Ferrari of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy writes, “As more prescription products become available OTC, we need to think about the special populations we see every day and determine if the new

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Flipping cancer the bird: can pop culture cure cancer?

70,000 young Americans between 15 and 39 years of age are diagnosed with cancer every year. This population falls in a gap between pediatric and adult cancer. Newly-diagnosed young adults often find themselves in a no-patients’-land, confronting a lack of targeted clinical trials and knowledgeable clinicians in local health markets.The National Cancer Institute says that survival rates for this group of cancer patients haven’t improved in over 30 years.That’s definitely cause to flip cancer the bird, and that’s exactly what the young actor, Zac Efron, has done.Efron is photographed with a young cancer patient, Emily Hobson, to focus on Stupid

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Personalized medicine: the consumer lens

Health care delivered in today’s model can be thought of as a mass market product. There’s not much customization, even though to each of us, our health is extremely personal to us.   Welcome to the emerging era of personalized medicine: “the right treatment for the right person at the right time.” This is just-in-time, customized, measure-twice-cut-once care bespoke for the individual.   Read more about this transformational market in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report, The new science of personalized medicine: Translating the promise into practice.   Personalized medicine includes several segments: Personalized medical care, such as telemedicine, health information technology and disease

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Americans’ demand for generic drugs is up

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 27 January 2009 in Bio/life sciences, Health Economics, Pharmaceutical, Supply chain

4 in 5 Americans would choose generic drugs over brand name drugs, according to The Harris Poll conducted among American adults in December 2008. In Substantial Increase in Public Preference for Generic over Brand Name Drugs, Harris found that the proportion of people who would more often pick branded drugs fell by nearly one-half, from 32% in October 2006 to 19% in December 2008. The 93% of Americans who bought prescription drugs in 2008 increased purchases at discount stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Sam’s Club (owned by Wal-Mart). In October 2006, 13% of Americans bought drugs at these kinds of

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Very slow growth forcast for pharma in U.S. in 2009

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 30 October 2008 in Bio/life sciences, Health Economics, Pharmaceutical, Pharmacy

The U.S. pharmaceutical market is slow-growth for 2009, according to IMS Health. The company forecasts a tiny 1-2% growth rate for the next year. The data point comes from IMS’s annual Global Pharmaceutical and Therapy Forecast.   The U.S. market for pharmaceuticals will be worth about $300 bn in 2009.   What’s slowing growth prospects for the U.S. are the overall declining macroeconomy, and its impact on visits to physicians and, ultimately, drug sales. Other factors slowing down drug sales in the U.S. are loss of patent protection on former big-name drugs and the influence of payers in drug coverage

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Moving up the health care value chain: J&J in health services

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has acquired the online health coaching company, HealthMedia. This will move the health supply company up the health care value chain further into the provision of health services. Nine years ago, I teamed with a Big Pharma on a scenario planning exercise about consumers and health care. One of our scenarios told the future-story of the consolidation/integration of information technology, pharma/life sciences, and health services to benefit consumer health. We now meet up with this future-story, and it’s J&J’s to tell.   I’ve written here in Health Populi about Walmart’s move toward pharmacy benefits management and

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As prescription drug sales decline, mail order grows

Globally, prescription drug sales grew 6.1% between 2006 and 2007. In the U.S., Rx sales grew 3.8% in the same period. This is the weakest U.S. sales rate for prescription drugs since 1996.   These stats come to you from IMSHealth, whose annual U.S. Pharmaceutical Market Performance Review found over a 50% drop in Rx sales growth from the 8% rate reached in 2006.   The backstory to what’s slowing drug sales is a good-news/bad-news mix. The flood of many popular blockbuster drugs going off-patent means that generics spending is up. Now, 2 in every 3 prescribed drugs is a

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Corporate reputation: pharma, gas and finance tie for the penultimate position

The reputation of the pharma industry continues to lag behind other consumer-facing businesses, based on Harris Interactive’s latest survey into corporate reputations. The 9th annual Reputation Quotient survey is out. Technology is king; other industries, like airlines, consumer products, insurance/financial services, pharmaceutical and retail – have plummeted over the past two years, according to Harris Interactive. Harris points out in its press release that it’s more than profits that consumers rate highly for corporate reputation. It’s a combination of social responsibility, vision, and how employees are treated. This combo can generate trust between a company and its consumers. The Top

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Happy Birthday, Viagra

It’s the drug that raised the profile of medicine in popular culture. It’s been hawked by a prominent politician and has been the butt of jokes on late-night TV. It’s Viagra, and it’s turning 10 today.   The FDA approved the drug on March 27, 1998. Here is the FDA’s approval page for it. Pfizer‘s Viagra reshaped pharmaceutical marketing in several ways. The company used direct-to-consumer advertising to great effect, and changed the game of DTC by advertising the drug not only in late at night broadcast outlets. More broadly, the marketing of Viagra bolstered the trend of medicalization of

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The golden era of generic drugs

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 17 March 2008 in Bio/life sciences, Health Economics, Pharmacy, Physicians

This is how IMS recently referred to 2008 and the next phase of the pharmaceutical drug market.   I recently posted here a pharma market update on drug prices (up), DTC (working), and generics (“the un-detail”).   Here’s the PS for that post, brought to you from IMS, the prominent market research firm focused on pharma. In their latest report on the industry released on March 12, IMS has found that last year’s 3.8% growth rate was the slowest since 1961. Generics are now more prominent in the U.S. health scene than branded pharmaceutical drugs. The total U.S. market for

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Wal-Mart’s leading role in health care — now, as PBM

When the health care Oscars are announced in 2010 for top roles, the health care academy won’t know whether to cast Wal-Mart as the lead, supporting, director, or producer in health care. Wal-Mart is the third largest pharmacy chain in the U.S. As #1 on the Fortune 500 list, the retailer’s role as a jumbo employer means it has clout in health care negotiations and in the entire American health system. According to the company’s CEO, the company may enter the pharmacy benefits management business. During the company’s annual “Year Beginning Meeting” last week, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott talked about

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A new and improved FDA – for 3 cents more

A strong FDA is crucial for the health of our country. The benefits of a robust, progressive Agency are enormous; the risks of a debilitated, under-performing organizaiton are incalculable.   These are the findings of the latest critical analysis of the Subcommittee on Science and Technology prepared for the FDA Science Board, FDA Science and Mission at Risk. FDA Commissioner von Eschenbach requested a hard look at the FDA one year ago, and this report is the sobering culmination of that effort. The Subcommittee included leading members of the scientific community familiar with emerging science, the external marketplace, and the

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Colds, kids and labels

Over-the-counter medicines (OTC meds) don’t cure colds in kids. The FDA has spoken, and said that the kinds of kid-targeted medicines photographed on the right aren’t only useless — they can be dangerous. The offending incredients are dextromethorphan, used in cough suppressants; pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, used in decongestants; guaifenesin, an expectorant; and, brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, or diphenhydramine, used in OTC meds labelled as antihistamines. If ever there was a time for a parent to get into label-reading, it’s now. The good news is that more of us are reading labels, according to the Hartman Group, the food and wellness research

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