KEY TAKEAWAY: Developing a “me too” drug may be a waste of resources as insurers are only allowing one drug, in certain categories, on formularies. A strategy of “taking a slice of the pie” is shortsighted and fails to acknowledge the realities of today’s marketplace.
How many long-acting insulin products does the market really need? According to insurers, not many. In talking with some physician thought leaders they have said that even when patients come in to request certain insulin pens that it’s really up to the patient’s insurer which one is covered. Are they concerned? Not really as most patients still trust their doctor to recommend what’s best. However, as a couple of doctors informed me “patient’s are a lot more savvy today”. “They know that their insurers are making mire and more treatment option decisions and they aren’t too happy about it”.
Can me-too drugs succeed despite the barriers? Yes, if pharma companies can prove better patient outcomes and efficacies and communicate that to health plan managers. Another way, though, would be through enhanced patient support that have been clinically tested and clearly show that they increase compliance and adherence thus lowering long term costs.
Are mobile apps an option? According to most doctors the answer is “no” until apps are shown to be both accurate and actually used by patients. Not too long ago, for example, I sat in some market research with cardiologists who said that they didn’t believe any of the mobile apps for CV provided accurate results.
Instead of just taking a slice of the pie in a lucrative market pharma companies would be better served to ensure their products are better than competitors. Sure, they could come in at a low price, but because of PBM contracts that may not matter.