Comment

Dec 10, 2014

Why pharma must rethink KOL strategy for emerging markets

Kendle Healthcare has done some work recently on identifying important stakeholders in emerging markets. These projects got me thinking about how the likes of India, Brazil, China and other BRIC-MT countries are representative of an ever-evolving KOL landscape, particularly with regard to market access procedures.

When this occurs, the pool of healthcare professionals whose opinions we most value spills out of the clinic and into the domain of public policy. In market access jargon, we’re witnessing a shift from a physician-centric model to a payor-driven model.

As markets develop, the decision on what to prescribe tends to get further and further away from the prescriber. When this occurs, the pool of healthcare professionals whose opinions we most value spills out of the clinic and into the domain of public policy. In market access jargon, we’re witnessing a shift from a physician-centric model to a payor-driven model. This spillage has yet to occur in many emerging markets, and policy-making bodies that make decisions on, say, drug reimbursement are often yet to be firmly established.

Take China as an example. With a population of 1.3 billion, and with ever better standards of living and increased urbanisation, we know there’s a trend towards modern medicine (as opposed to Chinese traditional medicine). In contrast to Western countries, a staggering proportion of these modern medicines are available through unregulated online channels and are widely self-administered, as opposed to being prescribed through primary care. However, severe conditions are still treated in hospital. And, as one of our KOL interviewees on Beijing’s healthcare front line suggested to me, chiefs of medicine in individual hospitals tend to be as important to drug policy in their local areas as the centralised bodies that govern them.

With this in mind, it’s clear that pharma’s paramount concern should be deciding where to focus engagement efforts with opinion leaders in emerging markets. Balancing early engagement with individuals at the forefront of national decisions and collaboration with prescribers who make important decisions at a local level will benefit both industry and the health of local populations.

Stakeholder identification of this kind is a developing and fascinating focus of Kendle Healthcare’s work. To find out more, browse our website – or contact me directly.

Neil Kendle

Managing Director