for the niche therapies and specialty pharma, growth is expected to be 14-15% this year. This trend is likely to continue along with the push toward personalized medicine.
Back in 2003, Jakob Nielsen was noticing the importance of niche sites. He observed that a niche site might not rank high in the overall Web popularity stakes, “but within their niche they dominate. A site that ranks as number 100,000 in the overall Web universe would still be the fifth largest within its niche: big enough to throw some weight around. Furthermore, niches have their own niches. Focusing on a highly targeted subtopic can make even a tiny site with a few hundred thousand page views stand out.”
For the pharma market, IMS data came out last year that said that overall growth in the market would be 5-6% in 2008. But for the niche therapies and specialty pharma, growth is expected to be 14-15% this year. This trend is likely to continue along with the push toward personalized medicine. More and more of the drugs coming through clinical trials now are not expected to be blockbusters, companies are looking to have three or four more targeted therapies where in the past they might have shot for one size fitting all. Part of the reason for the trend is to lower the risk of adverse reactions by making more tailored versions of each therapy.
Partly because of the vast explosion of information available and more and more new therapies, health care professionals are having a hard time keeping up with new information and applying it to patient care.
Patients are being pushed to take more control of their health care and now have the internet to help them become empowered. (This is a great story about an empowered patient using her librarian skills to find the right therapy for her nephew).
This has created a perfect storm of opportunity for pharma marketers to thoughtfully integrate search into their marketing strategy. Search engines are the #1 resource for those seeking health information. They are the point of entry for patients and, increasingly, for HCPs. Having a great search strategy is especially important for niche therapies who have to compete in a larger market. How do you stand out marketing a therapy for Diabetes type 1 if you have to compete for keywords with Diabetes type 2?
I think an answer can be found in appropriating concepts from The Long Tail by Chris Anderson. The Long Tail refers to a phenomenon caused by the rise of the internet where because the increasing flow of information, along with reduced distribution and inventory costs, a significant profit is possible through selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.
This same principal can be applied to marketing niche therapies in pharma. So instead of marketing a smaller number of blockbusters through large volume channels like TV, we can use the algorithms of the internet to market niche products to small audiences.
I’m speaking on this subject at the Center for Business Intelligence conference later this week in Philadelphia at the Park Hyatt. Should be interesting.