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Taking Medicine Up Close and Personal

Personalised medicine1 has the potential to replace traditional trial-and-error medicine, refine treatment protocols and ultimately deliver better patient outcomes. Professor Allen Roses on ABC radio gave this helpful overview of the current situation and the possible future:

“A patient goes into a physician’s office and the doctor has to make a choice about what drug to start with. Generally they are going to try to start with the best drug for that patient’s problem. But if the patient comes back and says the drug ain’t working, then what does the doctor do? Every time you try a new drug you’re risking adverse events of more than one drug. So it is somewhat of an art form and what pharmacogenetics and the so-called personalised medicine is trying to do is to say can we use science to determine those people who are most likely to have an effective response to a drug that somebody is going to have let’s say an allergic reaction to a drug and shouldn’t receive it at all.”2

Personalised medicine will also give support to the identification of populations that would benefit from a particular drug, and potentially lead to diagnostic medicine gaining as much importance as the drug itself.

Pharmaceutical marketers with large promotional budgets have traditionally targeted office-based physicians (both primary care and specialty), pharmacists (both retail and hospital-based), and hospital and formulary committees. By comparison, diagnostic marketers with smaller budgets have targeted hospital-based physicians, particularly pathologists, laboratory managers, laboratory department supervisors and point of care coordinators.

Personalised medicine blurs these boundaries and requires historically siloed marketers to practice interdisciplinary marketing of drugs and diagnostics. Except in those situations where therapeutic drug monitoring is necessary (or mandated), drugs and diagnostics have been historically separated. Now, due to the emergence of personalised medicine, drugs and diagnostics will not only be co-developed but also co-marketed, requiring marketers to possess both pharmaceutical and diagnostic expertise.

In the era of personalised medicine, quality rather than quantity will be rewarded. This will lead to pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies making a greater contribution to informed decision making, and not simply interacting with health care professionals.

Similar to the way in which new therapeutics will be more specific in terms of intended patient sub-populations, medical marketing communications will need to be targeted to the therapeutic/diagnostic decision maker.

At the very least, medical marketers, regardless of past experience, will need to break out of their silos and experience the magic of personalised medicine.

Andrew Carter
Managing Director, Commercial Eyes

  1. The United States Congress defines personalized medicine as ‘the application of genomic and molecular data to better target the delivery of health care, facilitate the discovery and clinical testing of new products, and help determine a person’s predisposition to a particular disease or condition.’
  2. Professor Allen Roses, The Health Report, ABC 1/12/2008
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