Switching hinges on changing behaviour
Τετάρτη 16 Σεπ 2015
Changing the behaviour of key stakeholders – including consumers, healthcare professionals and regulators – lies at the heart of any successful switch of a medicine from prescription to non-prescription status. Companies should also be prepared to rethink their own behaviour and expectations.

This is one of the key themes of Edition 5 of NEW IDEAS BETTER WAYS, the quarterly OTC Innovations review published by OTCToolbox(click here to purchase and download).

“When you switch a medicine from prescription to non-prescription status, everyone is required to change their behaviour,” comments Fiona Hammond, managing director of Hamell Communications, in Edition 5 of NEW IDEAS BETTER WAYS.

The process is particularly complex in countries where newly-switched medicines enter a pharmacy-only category. “Patients become consumers, and they seek help from a pharmacy rather than their doctor,” says Hammond. “Pharmacists may be required to operate outside their traditional dispensing role, and physicians have to relinquish some of the care and responsibility for their potential patients to pharmacy staff and to the individuals themselves.”

“Understanding the relationship between key stakeholders in each healthcare setting at an early stage in planning a switch is essential to success,” observes Hammond, stressing that companies need to “consider the complete picture rather than look at any one of these groups in isolation”.

Anna Maxwell, chief executive officer of switch capability specialist Maxwellia, points out in Edition 5 of NEW IDEAS BETTER WAYS that the key stakeholders have the power to influence whether a switch is a success or a failure. “Stakeholders come in all shapes and sizes,” notes Maxwell. “They can be key opinion leaders, experts in a field, professional bodies, public awareness groups, Facebook forums, charities, customers and competitors.”

Maxwell says key stakeholders need to be “identified and engaged early in the switch process”. “It is desirable to create a long-term, two-way relationship that continues through the planning process and long after implementation,” she advises, adding that there needs to be a stakeholder strategy and a stakeholder contact plan.

Two of the most important groups of stakeholders are doctors and pharmacists. “Switch can only work if pharmacists and doctors are on side,” says Maxwell, “so you have to learn what makes them tick.”

Engagers, resisters or selective supporters

Dr Alison Carr, Hamell’s clinical director, says a study carried out by Hamell in the UK found that pharmacists fall into one of three groups – engagers, resisters or selective supporters – when it comes to engaging with switched medicines.

“The main factors influencing engagement with reclassified medicines are personal rather than the practical aspects, such as time restrictions, that are usually cited,” maintains Carr, “although these practical aspects do become additional barriers in pharmacists who are not convinced by the switch.”

Carr maintains that the main reasons pharmacists do not support reclassified medicines are related to personal beliefs and behaviours, which can be changed with appropriately-targeted interventions.

Influencing regulatory agencies

Changing the behaviour of regulatory agencies is also a key element of successful switching, according to Edition 5 of NEW IDEAS BETTER WAYS (click here to purchase and download).

Ilias Zontiros of Dr. Regenold, which is part of the regulanet international network of independent regulatory consultancies, advises companies to view switch candidates from the perspective of regulators, who are “risk averse for very good reasons”. “They know that a medicine can never be 100% safe, and they have to safeguard the public,” he says, adding that they “will want to take all the measures they see fit to safeguard the public”.

Companies must bear this in mind in all of their dealings with regulatory agencies, stresses Zontiros, whilst seeking to minimise any measures imposed by regulators that could compromise the success of the switch.

Healthcare marketing consultant Amanda Blacklock says companies must make sure there is a “consumer base that will actually want to self-manage that condition and purchase the switched product”. “Before you decide to proceed with a switch,” she remarks, “make sure there is a commercial opportunity to turn that therapeutic condition into a viable non-prescription category.”

View the market through the eyes of consumers

Blacklock suggests that companies should take a look at the non-prescription setting through the eyes of consumers.

In the UK, for example, pharmacy chains such as Boots and Lloydspharmacy now offer a wide range of health and wellbeing services both in stores and online. These cover acne, erectile dysfunction, flu vaccinations, hair loss, travel vaccinations and many other areas.

Blacklock says companies need to have a good understanding of the retail environment for any switch candidate. “You need to understand the existing offerings available through the pharmacy channel, and the consumer base that is using those offerings,” she advises. “Any new offering needs to add value for both consumers and pharmacists. If it doesn’t, then it will be extremely hard to change current behaviour.”

“Putting the consumer at the heart of your thinking,” is essential for successful switching, according to Maxwell. “All too often, the thinking behind a switch is driven by replicating what happens in the prescription world rather than thinking about the behavioural aspects of the consumer in the self-care setting,” she comments. “If a switch is developed from the other end of the telescope – starting from the consumer perspective – then it will have a far greater chance of success.”

Maxwell points out in Edition 5 of NEW IDEAS BETTER WAYS that switches are “not quick fixes” and may “take time to evolve”.

She cautions companies “not to expect too much in the early stages of the launch”. “It is too big a challenge to expect switches – especially complex switches – to stand on their own two feet quickly,” she says. “A much longer-term view is needed.”

Guaranteed investment during first three years

Maxwell maintains that there should be a “guaranteed investment level during the first three years, win or lose”. “This will give an expert team enough time and resources to figure out the commercial path to success for a switch,” she explains.

“It would be a good idea for pharmaceutical companies to approach the early stages of launches as research and development projects,” she continues, “with the aim of finding the right way to commercialise the switch in the self-care setting.”

To purchase and download Edition 5 of NEW IDEAS BETTER WAYS CLICK HERE

Special offer for OTCToolbox readers. Get a half price copy of Anna Maxwell’s book Switch Dynamics at http://bit.ly/1hJnVRN.

Πηγή:  OTC Tool Box

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