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LUPIN: VALUABLE INSIGHTS READY TO ACT UPON!

Pietro Crovetto, VP Global Inhalation Strategy at Lupin Pharmaceuticals with vast experience from the international pharmaceutical industry at various prominent positions within commerce, marketing, strategy, and business development, for a variety of companies including Novartis, Chiesi, ALK Abelló and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Pietro has been a client to Opticom for over 10 years, both at previous positions and now, working for Lupin. He gives the background to his experiences with Opticom International Research, focusing on the latest Lupin project Opticom conducted, that he was personally involved in.
The main objective was to map the unmet needs of healthcare professionals and patients within asthma and COPD in terms of currently available innovative products’ attributes, in order to develop Lupin’s product so that it would satisfy those unmet needs better than competitor products.
Another aim was to enable Lupin to differentiate its product, including the services and monitoring systems offered, from existing alternatives and competitor products.
In the end, the main goal was to create a product that improves patient quality of life through ease-of-use, thus leading to improved compliance and lower treatment cost, something which would also lead to obvious advantages for healthcare professionals as well as payers.
The targeted markets in this project were the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The information was gathered in two modules, starting with desk research identifying relevant respondents with whom in-depth telephone interviews were then conducted.
Describing this project, Pietro explains that his idea was to monitor the emerging changes in therapeutic approaches and especially the interest in new combination products within the treatments of asthma and COPD. Basically to get a European overview of the present situation and to identify whether their designed new combination product was going to be successful or not and whether there were any differences across the European markets in this respect.
Pietro continues: I wanted to benchmark, to interview “real” clinicians, not opinion leaders, because there is a critical difference here. Opinion leaders are up to speed with the latest research and treatment options, as they often have done this research themselves, while clinicians might very well have heard about new stuff, after all they are specialists, but they are not necessarily as enthusiastic to adopt something new as the opinion leaders.
Choosing Opticom to supply Lupin with the market research was based on a combination of different factors; first of all good experiences in the past, resulting in a strong sense of reliability. According to Pietro, a key asset of Opticom is the fact that they offer both a very knowledgeable staff who understand the complex medical issues as well as their multilingual skills: “It helps a lot when we do not have to explain so much to a supplier and more time can be spent on the actual research, on the specifics of the projects!”
Sometimes the challenge with international market research, Pietro explains, is that you end up with the “Chinese whisper”, meaning I brief you, you brief somebody else and then that person briefs somebody else in turn, and then at the end of the day, you are not sure what went missing and where. So based on that, the two main points on why to choose Opticom are definitely their knowledge of the field and its multilingual staff based in one office. A third reason, according to Pietro, actually equally important: every time he has worked with Opticom, the adopted strategy has been to do 20-30% of the interviews, then pause for evaluation of the questionnaire, the response and answers so far: simply put: is it working? The Project Managers at Opticom are very flexible here and that is greatly appreciated, to optimize the quality of the output.
Concerning what the market insights provided by Opticom have meant to Lupin and what has been most valuable, Pietro points to the decision to invest in particular combinations of treatments, emphasizing that this is the most critical stage in their R&D and business development without going into specifics.
The results have also influenced their business decision-making, being added into their forecasting, because even if the research was qualitative, it was still very helpful to better understand what direction the market was taking. All in all, the insights have been used on several levels and according to Pietro, further investment decisions within asthma and COPD are definitely going to be based on the results from this research as well.
Asked about the return of investment, Pietro confesses: “To be honest, we didn’t count on ROI, but it was not at all expensive considering the huge amounts that have been spent on this treatment area, so the money we spent with Opticom was definitely worth it, more than worth it!”
According to Pietro, the main benefits of this specific project were that his team at Lupin got an additional level of insights on a practical level: there is a crucial difference between the people who work on the front line with patients and the opinion leaders, the high science: “We need to have a balance of both because we cannot ignore high science but at the end of the day we need to understand nurses on the floor, having issues reconstituting the product, for example. That is really a very valuable difference to us and something that Opticom understands. So I am very satisfied, more than satisfied and very happy with the co-operation with Opticom!”

 

PFIZER: OUR MISSION WAS TO BEND THE TREND – AND WE DID!

Francesco De Rosa, with vast experience from the international pharma industry at various prominent positions within sales, brand and business managing, gives the background to one of his first experiences with Opticom International Research: “At the time, I had taken over a very important Pfizer brand with a five-year legacy of declining market shares and I needed to get a 360 degree understanding of the decision-making process within the growth hormone therapy area” he explains and continues: “My scope was clear: bend the trend!”.
To gain this crucial understanding, Francesco turned to Opticom, a company which had previously delivered very good and useful results in projects for another pharmaceutical brand he had worked with. In the project of close co-operation that followed, Opticom conducted about 100 qualitative interviews with parents, paediatricians, and nurses to understand their different needs and reasoning within this therapy area.
The research discovered many “leaks” that delayed children’s access to treatment as well as large regional differences. Based on Opticom’s comprehensive analysis of the patient journey and treatment rationales, Francesco was able to change his company’s strategy, including a relocation of resources, better aligned to the customer landscape, as well as to improve communication around the value of treatment. In addition, the team could optimize its different support tools to physicians, nurses and parents, in order to facilitate earlier diagnose and better compliance.
Furthermore, Francesco and his colleagues came up with an improved treatment device to deal with an issue rated very important among respondents in the survey: Ease-of-use.
He describes the direct impact of this new, very valuable market knowledge: “Thanks to the new insights we designed a new device for the treatment of growth hormones deficiencies among children in order to meet the single most important factor in the choice of treatment: Easy-of-use of the device. This resulted in a patent available in more than 100 countries worldwide”.
As a result of the new strategy, the brand soon turned decline into growth and has been continuing this positive development ever since.
According to Francesco, the generation of updated customer insights is key to their business. Understanding both traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, their needs, as well as the patient journey and the decision-making process is fundamental in forming a successful business strategy.
In these situations you need a consulting company with a strong focus on quality, and with a thorough process for both research as well as analysis that delivers real and actionable results. That is where Opticom comes in as a very valuable partner with the staff’s vast knowledge and experience of the pharma industry:  “They are methodical in their understanding of customer needs and in making sure that the setup of the project, from the very start to result implementation, is consistent and with a great focus on details and delivery” says Francesco, who would definitely engage Opticom again to gain strategic insights and/or to facilitate optimized communication.

 

CARIS LIFE SCIENCES: FUTURE LABS VALUABLE FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED

Many believe personalised medicine is the future for health care. Caris, a pioneer in this field, specialised in personalised cancer diagnostics, discovered that although many agree that this is the future, it is hard to present the service and discuss how this future would fit today’s practices. To overcome this challenge and discuss the whole issue as a common challenge that needs involvement from different stakeholders in health care, Caris engaged Opticom to conduct Future Labs in a number of cities across Sweden.


Caris Molecular Intelligence provides oncologists with the most relevant, clinically actionable and individualised treatment information to personalise cancer care for all solid tumours. While traditionally in the Nordic countries tumours are checked for about 3 or 4 biomarkers, Caris’ solution routinely checks for 70 biomarkers, including those normally only associated with other solid tumours. By doing so, Caris’ Evidence Engine can suggest the drugs that are most likely to be effective for this particular patient, based on the biology of the tumour as well as its global database of the most recent relevant scientific evidence.

Valuable that participants let go of their usual role
“We decided to organise these Future Labs with Opticom to be able to discuss in a structured way how a hypothetical introduction of our service, that seems to be so far away in the future, would be done and to get a good dialogue in a good forum where it is allowed to be creative and be future-minded,” Jonas Nylander, Nordic Sales and Business Development Director at Caris Life Sciences, explains.


“I think the most valuable part of the method is that, since it is called Future Lab, you create a think tank. Just the title of the meeting allows participants to let go of their usual roles and all the usual barriers can be set aside for a moment. When we discuss the question with one person at a time, the entire debate gets stuck from all sides because everyone refers to someone else. But when we can agree that this is interesting to look at and considered to be the future, which oncologists and pathologists do agree on, while politicians think it is interesting and the patients ask why can we not have this today already, then we can start to discuss how we can reach this future sooner or how we should adjust so that we can also make this a reality in the future in Sweden. Then we can get a good discussion about questions that are relevant already in today’s situation. When a think tank like this starts to discuss the future, they are actually discussing how we can implement the future already today.”


Companies invest too few resources in researching their markets
“I believe companies invest too few resources in researching their markets, not only quantitatively, but especially qualitatively. Many underestimate the value of having this kind dialogue and discussing with the market in a structured way. They just think that doing research provides us with information we already had before we started. To communicate with different stakeholders in this kind of format where the context is quite different from the usual ways we interact with them also contributes to moving forward on the important questions in a very good way. In the normal context, people may get defensive, but in this situation they are asked to consider the product or the service and become part of developing how this can be implemented. There are many companies who just see this as a given and just say why do I need more market research? But this type of projects do not just have the purpose of getting more information, they also aim at changing the way these issues are discussed.”


Positive feedback from participants
“We also got comments from several participants that they thought it was very interesting to get this time and to set aside time in their busy schedules to sit down and take the opportunity to have a meeting where they can discuss the future for cancer treatment and diagnostics with oncologists, pathologists, politicians and patient representatives. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from participants. The most stressed professors we know, who travel a lot and always have lot going on, they have indicated that they considered it valuable to take this time and sit together with others and discuss these questions even though they took time from their evenings, their personal free time, to do this. They may not have expected it to be this valuable beforehand, but have told us that it really was valuable afterwards.”


“All in all, I would say it was well invested money! Conducting Future Labs like this can contribute to changing the dialogue and discuss solutions from a new angle, as a common problem that we need to solve together. The future in health care is a joint problem or a joint challenge, so it is good to discuss it as a common challenge instead of as a company that is trying to establish a service on a market,” Jonas Nylander concludes.

 

SOBI: A GLOBAL PLAYER IS NEEDED TO GET FULL INSIGHT ACROSS INTERNATIONAL MARKETS

The international width that Opticom provides is very valuable for a company like Sobi, as we are working globally, offering products on some 50 markets worldwide. That is when you need a true global player to co-operate with, a local market research company present in just one or two markets have more difficulty providing us what we need” says Charlotte Ungerth, Global Brand Director at Sobi (Swedish Orphan Biovitrum).


Only in the past year Sobi has assigned Opticom with several different market research projects within their RA (rheumatoid arthritis) section and around the treatment with Kineret.

Kineret (anakinra) is an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist indicated for reduction in signs and symptoms and slowing the progression of structural damage in moderately to severely active RA and is a solution administrated by subcutaneous injection.


A variety of both quantitative and qualitative market research methodology has been used in the different projects of the past year; web surveys and telephone interviews, as well as focus groups and face-to-face interviews. All in all around 150 respondents; physicians, nurses and patients, from different clinics in 28 countries have participated, answering questions on subjects like treatments, prescription, usage, administration and desired improvements.


Charlotte Ungerth continues: “We have basically made two major decisions based on these latest research projects; as a result of the prescription study in USA we have expanded our staff there in order to better enhance the apparent potential on the American market, which was clearly illustrated in that study. That also led to the establishment of SOBI Inc., an affiliated company, so all in all that specific survey gave us a very strong foundation to build on that case.”


Furthermore Sobi achieved a good base for the further development of their repositioning strategy in their approved indication within RA. The survey conducted at the international EULAR conference in London 2011, where 60 rheumatologists from all around the world were interviewed face-to-face by Opticom staff, strengthened SOBI in their endeavour to develop their position within the RA segment and showed that there is a positive response to the chosen repositioning strategy.


The various market research results have been of great value in the company’s internal strategy work, of which not all has yet been communicated but some parts have been published in annual reports and presented in capital markets days, basically to illustrate the potential in the medication and how it meets the clinical demands in diseases with an unmet medical need and how Sobi there through is able to create added value with Kineret.


Answering on what has been the best with these projects, Charlotte declares: “That is to be able to objectively verify what one perhaps has a gut feeling of, that one is able to quantify and get stats on the usage of our product. That base is tremendously important when one does calculations on business cases and as a foundation for different investment decisions. In this way you are able to get raw data in a totally different way than if you would only ask KOL’s or if you would just buy sales statistics or use other such sources for your market information. So these kinds of surveys are really an invaluable part of that analysis.”


Concerning the value of regular market research, Charlotte is convinced that a continuous value measurement over time is vital in order to keep her updated on market changes. She sees a need for an initial, general baseline achieved in bigger projects and then further, specialised follow-up surveys when strategy changes have been initiated or taken decisions have been implemented.


Charlotte believes that there are clear benefits with having market research conducted by the same partner over time; for the experience and also so that the same parameters can be looked at from one survey to the next: “The continuous dialogue with Opticom’s competent staff has helped us in focusing and defining the scoop, which has lead to clearer projects and resulting in distinct deliveries” and she continues: “Opticom has a wide network and skilled staff and we have a long standing co-operation and an established relation with an open dialogue and that is internally very appreciated here at SOBI. So it has been very smooth and fast to carry through the projects in the way we work together”


She is convinced the investments made in market research has been money very well spent: “All the conducted surveys have proven to be positive business cases, so the investments made in Opticom market research have paid off multiple times” Charlotte Ungerth concludes.

 

NEUROLOGY CLINIC: OPTICOM AS AN ADVISING PARTNER FOR START UP AT SOPHIAHEMMET

The neurology field is facing increasing demands; such as a fast-growing population, increase of ageing patients and major advances in neuroscience. Thus, wide changes are needed in order to meet the care challenges for patients with neurological diseases. In Stockholm, a new private concept is now being shaped; providing care and serving as a complement to public neurology care. Looking for a partner in market analysis and strategic consulting; Neurology Clinic Stockholm turned to Opticom as an advising partner in the start up of a neurology specialist centre, which will be moving into new facilities at Sophiahemmet during the autumn of 2012.

Neurology Clinic Stockholm (NCS) was first started in 2004 and has since then slowly grown to become the largest private neurology clinic in Sweden. The aim has been to combine modern neurology care and neurophysiology know-how with the patient in focus. NCS has a unique position in Sweden since their neurophysiological investigations are integrated in the neurological outpatient clinic. This has many advantages with greater diagnostic accuracy and a significantly shorter latency before a correct diagnosis is established and a potential treatment is initiated. NCS has a contract with Stockholm County Council (SLL) regarding both neurology care and clinical neurophysiology and primarily functions as a referral partner towards primary care, but also towards a large number of other specialties, including the hospitals in Stockholm. NCS also have contracts with a number of insurance companies regarding patients with a private health insurance and who need to be seen by a neurologist or a neurophysiologist.

To meet the increasing demands on Neurology, NCS will launch a new neurology specialist centre at Sophiahemmet in Stockholm. NCS plan to open this new unit in September of 2012, where they will offer a complete neurological outpatient clinic for the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of all sorts of neurological disorders. NCS at Sophiahemmet will have a fully-equipped neurophysiological laboratory, specialist nurses and physiotherapists in close proximity to the neurological outpatient clinic. NCS at Sophiahemmet will function as a specialist centre of neurology and as such, has close collaboration with several hospitals in Stockholm.


NCS was looking for a partner in market analysis and strategic consulting, assisting in the development of a business plan. The aim was to analyze the business potential for the new concept within neurological special care at Sophiahemmet. A study of the attractiveness and needs amongst prioritized stakeholders was performed and also the most important and joint actions were identified.


Tor Ansved concludes “This process of establishing a specialist centre of neurology has been greatly facilitated by the use of Opticom as a partner in the development process of the concept and provided many valuable insights from various stakeholders.”

 

ABBOTT DIABETES CARE: OPTICOM AS A STRATEGIC PARTNER

Fierce competition between suppliers characterises the market for blood glucose meters with the additional challenge that this market is strictly regulated by public procurement. All blood glucose meter suppliers are fully dependent on getting their meters on tender in as many counties as possible. A customer can only obtain disposables (test strips) for a meter that is currently on tender and which meters are selected and available to customers is under constant change. Creating loyal customers under those conditions is quite a challenge. Abbott Diabetes Care has selected Opticom as a strategic partner in its strive for success.


Abbott Diabetes Care is a global leader in manufacturing diabetes blood glucose monitors and glucose meters, which has been conducting scientific research in the therapeutic area of diabetes since 1981. In Sweden, Abbott Diabetes Care has reached market leadership as a result of a fruitful collaboration with Opticom.



“The main reason for us to work with Opticom is that we’ve been very pleased with everything they have delivered to us. I enjoy working with them as they always have a ‘can-do-attitude’ which I find very refreshing.”

Abbott Diabetes Care works with a number of direct-to-consumer marketing initiatives as well as with more strategic projects. For many of these activities – including end-user coaching as well as segmentation studies but also for strategic projects such as FutureLab® – Abbott Diabetes Care has selected Opticom as its preferred partner. Anna Levander, Commercial Director North Europe, Abbott Diabetes Care has been in charge of these projects and she is enthusiastic about her supplier: “The main reason for us to work with Opticom is that we’ve been very pleased with everything they have delivered to us. I enjoy working with them as they always have a ‘can-do-attitude’ which I find very refreshing.”



The aim of the projects has been for Abbott Diabetes Care to keep a direct dialogue with its customers to maintain a stable relationship while at the same time minimising churn. An up-to-date CRM system is a prerequisite to be able to choose preferred channels for direct-to-consumer actions, to sort out relevant customers and to retain customers by actually knowing them and their preferences. In order to achieve this, Opticom has carried out a number of outbound calling campaigns in Sweden, Norway and Denmark on behalf of Abbott Diabetes Care during several consecutive years.



“I would describe Opticom as more of a strategy consultant than a market research company. They are very good, as opposed to the average market research companies, at bringing their analysis to conclusion which makes Opticom more of a strategy consultancy firm with the ability to perform market research.”


To complement these more quantitative campaigns, and gain more strategic qualitative insight, Abbott Diabetes Care has chosen to work with FutureLab® Deminars. A FutureLab® Deminar is a round table discussion where a demonstration of a product, or other selected material, is the starting point for the discourse. A mixed target group – in this case diabetes patients, nurses, public purchasers, doctors and representatives from a diabetic patient organisation – were gathered to discuss features of new Abbott products and the accompanying product presentation materials. This provided Abbott Diabetes Care with valuable information prior to the product launch. “I would describe Opticom as more of a strategy consultant than a market research company. They are very good, as opposed to the average market research companies, at bringing their analysis to conclusion which makes Opticom more of a strategy consultancy firm with the ability to perform market research.” Anna Levander concludes.