Forecasting and Strategy Development for a Neurological Product

Abstract

Ahead of availability of clinical data from their final set of trials and under significant time pressure, a pharmaceutical company engaged RG+A to help create an accurate forecast for the performance of a neurological product upon approval of the product’s second indication. Using a two-element approach consisting of qualitative interviews and RG+A’s Dynamic Practice Simulation® method, RG+A was able to identify key factors impacting physician likelihood to prescribe and to recommend changes in the brand’s communications approach to boost receptivity to the product. RG+A confirmed the client’s previously forecast peak; however our research showed that the shape of the curve would push that peak out further than previously expected.

Background

RG+A’s client was nearing approval for a new indication on an existing in-line product in the neurological space, but had not yet completed final clinical trials for this new indication. Following launch of the first indication, the client’s product had underperformed. These factors combined to create the need to re-forecast, taking into account the new indication as well as business conditions that required the results and model to be available within 60 days. In addition, the client wished to identify drivers for use of the product in order to account for the previously-mentioned underperformance and to lay the groundwork for a successful launch strategy around the new indication.

Methodology

To address the client’s objectives, RG+A employed a two-element, qualitative and quantitative approach. The qualitative element included 20 interviews among likely prescribers and leveraged Wisdom of Crowds to enhance precision among this relatively small number of interviews.  The quantitative element used RG+A’s Dynamic Practice Simulation® (DPS®) to engage 180 likely prescribers in a simulated prescribing exercise.

Key Challenges

  1. Forecast product use in light of a new indication
  2. Design an integrated forecasting model that accounts for:
    1. Patient line of therapy (2L, 3L, 4L)
    2. Ancillary effects within primary indication
  3. Identify drivers of use
    1. Physician and patient characteristics that, when leveraged, help the product achieve optimal uptake

How the Design Addressed the Challenges

  1. The qualitative element was used to:
    1. “Take the pulse” of the marketplace
    2. Refine the product TPP
    3. Identify key content for the quantitative study
  2. The DPS element enabled RG+A to:
    1. Estimate peak market share available to the product in 2nd, 3rd and 4th line patients
    2. Estimate the path to peak share in terms of time to peak and shape of the curve
    3. Identify key patient, physician, and brand value factors to drive product success at launch of the second indication

RESULTS

The research confirmed the relatively low usage of the product, driven primarily by the perception that the product brought drawbacks without sufficient benefits. RG+A’s forecast also showed that the second indication performance would be in line with the primary indication peaking at 10% of second-line and later patients. Although the forecasts aligned on volume, RG+A’s analysis revealed a significantly different shape to the product curve which suggested a longer and slower growth to peak and provided the evidence that management needed to accept this less aggressive forecast. A change in marketing strategy was indicated to ensure maximum share for the product.

GUIDANCE

RG+A recommended using the new indication approval as an opportunity for a major shift in product communications to bring the benefits to the forefront and to adopt a reassuring, pragmatic tone more likely to engage neurologists. Specific recommendations included a focus on efficacy and comparative safety relative to other products, an increased field presence particularly at target conferences, leveraging physician influencers, and guidance on best use for the product in combination with other products in the class.

ACTION

A close working relationship with RG+A throughout the research and analysis phases ensured a quick turnaround and immediately actionable recommendations for the manufacturer client.  Shortly after the project completed, the client disseminated the results throughout the group, gained consensus on expectations for the product and layered a revenue-based model over the prescription-based one.  This allowed the organization to quickly make budgetary and marketing support decisions prior to secondary indication approval.