Rare Disease Drug Development & Commercialization Learnings, Opportunities & Debates at World Orphan Drug Congress USA 2022

The Kx team attended the World Orphan Drug Congress (WODC) in Boston, MA last week and came away energized from three days of sharing ideas, inspirational stories, and panel discussions. This event brings together the full range of stakeholders who drive and support orphan drug development, regulatory approval, treatment delivery, and patient/caregiver support services. Here we discuss a few themes we heard across meetings and presentations:

Capturing the full market potential for a new orphan drug is a challenge; diagnosis and treatment gaps add to the unmet needs a new treatment needs to address

Repeatedly, newly approved treatments for rare diseases with a strong clinical profile (i.e., safe and effective) have not achieved the degree of adoption forecasted pre-launch. Why? With humility, drug developers acknowledged their own shortcomings in not building a comprehensive ecosystem of care for target patients, their caregivers, HCPs, and payers.

Unfortunately, there is no universal go-to-market (GTM) playbook for launching a treatment in an orphan indication; however, key questions to ask when GTM planning in rare diseases in have become clear:

  • What is the daily reality and emotional state of patients and caregivers?
  • What breakpoints exist in the patient journey, and how can we address those?
  • How can barriers to delivery be mitigated through just-in-time delivery infrastructure and treatment sites creation for gene therapies?
  • How should value be measured (to ensure access and coverage continuation)?

The term “beyond the pill” is still a popular idea, but there is a need to define what that means for meeting the needs of different patient, HCP, and payer populations. By establishing trusting, longitudinal relationships with the patients, caregivers, and HCPs they strive to serve, drug developers are successfully building tailored, comprehensive GTM strategies today for the next wave of orphan drug launches, building the foundation for “beyond the pill” to be more than a catchphrase. 

Value differentiation is best achieved through focus on simple, straightforward clinical endpoints

For over a decade, rare disease treatments have seen greater flexibility from regulators on primary endpoint designations than treatments for more prevalent indications; however, we consistently heard that leniency in clinical trial design may fade. Until now, drug developers could drive endpoints selection based on early trial results and carry these through to regulatory approval reviews. As noted by Simone Boselli, Public Affairs Director, EURODIS, during one of the panel discussions, too often today these endpoints are abandoned post-approval given challenges with continued tracking in real-world settings.

Going forward, drug developers should pursue greater prospective consideration and engagement to ascertain how regulatory bodies (FDA, EMA, health technology assessment (HTA) bodies) expect data packages to be constructed. Emphasis will be placed on using clinical endpoints that are simple to compare across studies by competing developers and straightforward to extrapolate to functional benefits for patients, as well as feasible to continue to measure in the real world as drug developers aim to build a real-world evidence base. In the future, drug developers presenting unique (rather than universally accepted) clinical endpoints may run into delays or rejections, costing time, revenue, and patient access to novel treatments.

Rare disease patients desire true partnership, including greater influence over the risk tolerance decisions and transparency on drug development setbacks

Appropriately, keynote presentation sessions often included patient advocates such as Allyson Berent, COO, GeneTx*, who shared her experience from her daughter’s Angelman Syndrome (AS) diagnosis at 6 months old. When she realized there were no approved treatments for the condition, she dedicated her time and energy to pursuing an effective treatment, ultimately becoming the Chief Science Officer of Foundation for Angelman Syndrome and co-founder of GeneTx.

(*note: GeneTx was acquired by Ultragenyx on 7/19/22)

We at Kx Advisors applaud the dedication of individuals, such as Allyson Berent, who work relentlessly to bring innovative therapies to patients. Also, we are telling her story here because her asks to industry were echoed by others at WODC:

  • Further elevate patients’ voices and requests – creating an ecosystem of care requires early and frequent patient input 
  • Consider that the risk-reward tolerance when patients are desperate for a lifeline may be different than industry’s view; many felt patients should have more influence on the calculus 
  • Increase transparency of critical feedback from the FDA to drug developers when reviewing clinical results, as patients are central to progress and deserve transparency on both advancements and setbacks; this sharing rarely occurs today, and collectively holds back innovation for the sake of competitive advantage

 

How Kx Can Help

Do you want to discuss further our takeaways from the World Orphan Drug Conference? Does your organization need to address specific challenges in rare disease asset planning and launch strategy? If so, please contact Brett Larson brett.larson@kxadvisors.com or Jenna Riffell at jenna.riffell@kxadvisors.com.

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Using Your Product Launch Forecast as a Strategic Tool

Using Your Product Launch Forecast as a Strategic Tool 

Forecasting as a Decision-Making Tool

Too often, commercial planning teams approach revenue forecasting as a required financial exercise rather than a strategic planning activity. The highest performing teams, however, develop revenue models to drive decision-making and reinforce strategy. The forecasting process – designing the model, understanding the demand funnel, gathering insights, aligning on assumptions, and analyzing results – can drive decisions and deliver more value than the output itself. Elevating a revenue forecast to a powerful decision-making tool requires careful planning and thoughtful design considerations.

Crafting Your Product Launch Forecast to Inform Strategy

While revenue models are commonly designed to inform resource allocation, investor communications, or inventory planning, the most robust and accurate models are also designed to inform commercial strategy.  With the correct design considerations, your commercial planning team can learn more about the patient segments driving forecast value, identify opportunities in the patient journey to drive product adoption, and pinpoint the investments needed to drive share. Further, the most effective models consider multiple scenarios to plan for key unknowns.

Unfortunately, many project teams jump into forecasting with unclear objectives, insufficient data sources, or too many scenarios, and ultimately fail to develop a useful decision-making tool. Your team can avoid common modeling pitfalls by following best practices in three critical planning steps:

  1. Create the decision-making framework  
  2. Find the applicable data for the model   
  3. Define the scenarios    

Create the Decision-making Framework

The first step of any model should be aligning on the end goals (i.e., defining the decisions model will inform).  An end goal could be, for example, determining the focus and magnitude of commercial investments, evaluating strategic options in the face of a new market force, or determining supply need for a quarterly production plan. After identifying the overarching question(s), your team can determine how to approach the model.  

Your team can use the end goal to decide on the type of model. The type of model, from market share model to launch planning to production demand, determines the model’s specificity. Analyzing the structure before gathering data to ensure the model aligns with the end goal will save your team time and effort.  For example, is an annual model sufficient to calculate net revenue, or does the organization need monthly/weekly sales granularity to inform production planning? Is there a need (and reliable data) to support international country-level forecasts, or would a regional forecast be more accurate and equally actionable? Once you understand the key questions the model is answering, the desired output, and the aligned model type, your team will have the clarity to move to the next step: finding the data.     

Find the Applicable Data for the Model    

First, your team should identify and classify relevant data sources about your product and market, such as epidemiology studies, claims data sets, qualitative interviews, quantitative surveys, historical product sales, and competitor sales, among others, for input. Forecasting teams should take a “best source” approach –evaluating every assumption individually for the highest confidence source. Without pinpointing potential knowledge gaps, models can provide incorrect or incomplete information, impacting the outputs of the model, and ultimately, the launch’s success.  

If the data does not exist in the public domain or within research resources, it can often be collected. Kx specializes in designing and executing market research with key stakeholders (e.g., providers, patients, and payers) to inform quantitative forecasts.   When designing primary market research, it is important to start with the model structure and work backward to design the research to fit the model. Designing for the model’s purpose will lead to a more accurate forecast. Finally, research should be designed to enable a “living, breathing” forecast. Research approaches such as choice-based conjoint surveys can allow forecasters to simulate new market conditions as they arise and update key assumptions without conducting additional market research. 

Define the Scenarios  

After outlining the criteria for the data, the next step is to determine which scenarios need to be analyzed. Often teams will initially attempt to investigate and list all possible options, but if the model becomes too complex, it will lose its effectiveness. Instead, the best practice is to define a base case or most likely scenario. A base case typically uses a consensus estimate or confidence-based weighting along key assumptions to drive forecast outputs. Once your team identifies the most likely scenario, define the parameters you want to test. Identifying priorities and areas of uncertainty will help determine which scenarios to test. For example, breadth of market access or coverage, varying price points, the impact of future clinical study outcomes on adoption, and changes to competitor mix are some of the most frequently explored scenarios.  

How Kx Can Help With Your Product Launch Forecast

Over the last four decades, our team has developed proven modeling and forecasting approaches that produce accurate, insightful outputs and drive strategic decision making. Our team acts as strategic partners to help guide you through the entire process, including developing the product launch forecast, gathering the underlying data and insights, aligning internal stakeholders, and ultimately preparing the model for you to run.  

 

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How Does COVID-19 Change Clinical Pipeline Prioritization?

How Does COVID-19 Change Clinical Pipeline Prioritization?

Gauging The Impact Of COVID-19 For Your Organization

The healthcare industry faces specific hurdles, resulting in reduced physician-patient interactions and lower procedure volume. Pharmaceutical and medical device organizations face several unique barriers as COVID-19 persists, highlighting the potential need to adjust strategic planning for both new and existing products. One of those barriers is the disruption to clinical study timelines, including delayed initiation of new studies and challenges to completing ongoing studies safely and efficiently. Depending on the severity of a delay or obstacles to initiation, certain programs may need to be deprioritized. Corporate leaders, clinical development decision-makers, and new product teams must consider what the new normal may look like and assess their pipelines, adapting their plans accordingly.  

Analyzing COVID-19 Challenges

We see pipeline prioritization as an iterative process that is necessary to maximize growth potential and manage risks for all biopharma and medical device companies. COVID-19 poses several disparate challenges for clinical companies as they adjust estimates for development costs, timing, risk tolerance, and strategic priorities within their pipelines:

  • The changes made in response to COVID-19 may have a long-lasting impact: Healthcare provider closures and a rise in telemedicine may foreshadow future patterns. Oral treatments for severe conditions are seeing strong adherence and higher-quantity refills to minimize person-to-person contact. However, we anticipate a slowdown for recently launched products and potential discontinuations for therapies that require regular physician office or hospital visits for administration or dose titrations
  • External funding hurdles may emerge: External continued pipeline financing advancement exists, but pre-revenue companies will continue to experience an increased pressure to showcase their unique capabilities in a competitive market. Clinical organizations will need to show that their innovative treatments can attain clinical trial results in a socially-distant era
  • Ongoing clinical trial challenges will persist: Both small and large biotech companies are experiencing clinical trial disruptions, as new risks to patient and provider safety have emerged.  These disruptions include trial site closures, increased safety precautions for patients, delayed assessments, and supply shortages. Additionally, Institutional Review Boards may be unable or unwilling to review new protocols or amendments, halting further clinical progress

Pipeline Prioritization During COVID-19

As we continue to monitor the lasting impact of COVID-19, strategy, clinical development, and new product teams must analyze and monitor these hurdles and their effect on business:

  • Analyze the magnitude of impact on your unique organization: How these considerations fit together internally and within the competitive landscape is unique to each organization – for larger organizations, incremental timeline extensions and associated costs will be manageable, while small biotech companies may be at risk of missing milestones to generate data to support follow-on fundraising. This analysis provides a foundation to segment your pipeline
  • Rethink your timeline and identify potential program tradeoffs: Re-examine your path to launch based on newly emergent clinical development hurdles and their impact on your business. Teams should also assess what program tradeoffs can be made regarding project timelines and costs. Additionally, organizations should consider the extent to which current and planned programs are adaptable to this disrupted environment through remote monitoring, data collection, and investigational drug management
  • Revisit Net Present Value (NPV) inputs for development costs and commercial opportunities: The attributes most desirable in a clinical development program under normal circumstances are primarily associated with our lower impact category. Still, changes on the margin may impact overall forecasting of clinical development costs and peak commercial opportunities and must be considered

Kx Advisors Is Here For You

With biopharma expertise and corporate strategy experience, Kx Advisors can guide you through the impacts of the pandemic. Our team of healthcare experts will help you evaluate your pipeline, revise critical timelines, assess tradeoff decisions, and identify new ways to take advantage of new opportunities within the fluid global landscape.

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