“Established products”, “Established drugs”, "Mature drugs" or “Classic brands” within the pharmaceutical industry often remain a significant revenue driver for pharmaceutical companies despite loss of exclusivity (LOE), the subsequent entry of generics or biosimilars, or when facing approval of drugs with same or similar indication and a superior profile.
Pharmaceutical marketing functions are tasked to help sustain the revenue for an established product, however, is challenged by the following:
Pharmaceutical companies have a moral obligation to only promote of products that offer the best possible outcomes and benefits for patients, ensuring the highest standards of patient care and safety. The question is under which condition an established product facing LOE and/or a market with newer more efficacious and safer treatments is the appropriate drug for a given patient. Here are a few scenarios:
Healthcare professionals may have extensive experience and familiarity with the established product, including its efficacy, safety profile, and potential side effects. To adopt a new drug and apply it as a part of a full treatment program for a given patient group requires experience, education, and time.
Some patients will have a specific response or tolerance to the established product that makes it more suitable for their individual needs. Switching to a new superior product may not necessarily guarantee the same level of effectiveness or tolerability for every patient.
Patients who have been successfully using the established product and have had positive experiences often develop trust towards the brand. They may be hesitant to switch to a new product, even if it is considered superior, and which may hinder adherence to a new drug and impact negatively the patient-to-HCP relationship.
Depending on the healthcare system and insurance coverage, the established product may be more affordable for patients or payers compared to a new superior product.
The established product frequently has a well-established supply chain, widespread availability, and accessibility in various healthcare settings. This can ensure consistent access for patients.
These scenarios vary depending on the specific characteristics of the established and new superior products, generics/biosimilars, the therapeutic area, patient population, and healthcare system considerations.
While established brands in the pharmaceutical industry face unique challenges, they also have several opportunities to leverage their strengths and maintain a competitive edge.
Established brands often possess a wealth of long-term data and evidence that demonstrates impact in terms of patient outcomes. This allows for the rightful positioning as a "tried and tested" drug.
Leveraging their history and heritage, established brands can engage in heritage campaigns that emphasize their longstanding presence in the market. This can help them maintain a significant share of mind among HCPs, as familiarity and trust are important pillars in a quickly changing and complex healthcare ecosystem.
Testimonials and stories from HCPs and patients showcasing outcomes are widely available for many established products and can be uniquely insightful within the given regulatory limitations.
Over time, established brands have often built solid search rankings, making them more visible to HCPs searching for information online. Also, the HCPs awareness of the drug is often mirrored in a relatively high number of product searches in Google or similar engine searches. Keeping content fresh outside the gated product content can cement the position of the brand site.
Established brands can leverage their experience and resources to provide comprehensive patient support programs that are outcome focused. Supporting patients an HCPs beyond the product can further solidify an established product as as trusted partner in holistic patient care.
Unlike newly launched brands, established brands do not need to spend significant resources introducing themselves to the market. Instead, they can focus on highlighting the specific benefits and advantages their products offer. This allows for more targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to the needs of HCPs and their patients.
Established brands in pharmaceutical companies have several opportunities to leverage their strengths and maintain a competitive edge. However, they need to do this alongside ensuring they only promote of products that offer the best possible outcomes and benefits for patients.
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