Pietro Crovetto, VP Global Inhalation Strategy at Lupin Pharmaceuticals, with vast experience from the international pharmaceutical industry. He has held various prominent positions at companies such as Novartis, Chiesi, ALK Abelló and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Pietro has been a client of Opticom for over 10 years. He shares his experiences of working with Opticom International Research, focusing on the latest Lupin project Opticom conducted.
Develop, differentiate the product and improve patient quality of life
The main objective was to map the unmet needs of healthcare professionals and patients within asthma and COPD, in terms of currently available innovative products’ attributes, in order to develop Lupin’s product so that it would satisfy those unmet needs better than competitor products.
Another aim was to enable Lupin to differentiate its product, including the services and monitoring systems offered, from existing alternatives and competitor products.
In the end, the main goal was to create a product that improves patient quality of life through ease-of-use, thus leading to improved compliance and lower treatment cost – something that would also lead to obvious advantages for healthcare professionals as well as payers.
The targeted markets in this project were the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The information was gathered in two modules, starting with desk research identifying relevant respondents, with whom in-depth telephone interviews then were conducted.
Monitor and overview the present situation and emerging changes in Europe
Describing this project, Pietro explains that his idea was to monitor the emerging changes in therapeutic approaches, and especially the interest in new combination products within the treatments of asthma and COPD. Basically to get a European overview of the present situation and to identify whether their designed new combination product was going to be successful or not and whether there were any differences across the European markets.
Pietro continues: I wanted to benchmark, to interview “real” clinicians, not opinion leaders, because there is a critical difference here. Opinion leaders are up to speed with the latest research and treatment options, as they often have done this research themselves, while clinicians might very well have heard about new stuff, after all they are specialists, but they are not necessarily as enthusiastic to adopt something new as the opinion leaders.
Choosing Opticom to supply Lupin with the market research, was based on a combination of different factors: first of all good experiences in the past, resulting in a strong sense of reliability.
According to Pietro, a key asset is the fact that Opticm offer both a very knowledgeable staff who understand the complex medical issues as well as their multilingual skills: “It helps a lot when we do not have to explain so much to a supplier and more time can be spent on the actual research, on the specifics of the projects!”
Sometimes the challenge with international market research, Pietro explains, is that you end up with the “Chinese whisper”, meaning I brief you, you brief somebody else and then that person briefs somebody else in turn, and at the end of the day, you are not sure what went missing and where. Opticom however offer its multilingual staff based in one office, minimising the risk of the “Chinese whisperer”.
A third reason, according to Pietro, and actually equally important: every time he has worked with Opticom, the adopted strategy has been to start with 20-30% of the interviews, then pause for evaluation of the questionnaire. The response and answers so far, simply put: is it working? The Project Managers at Opticom are very flexible here and that is greatly appreciated, this optimizes the quality of the output.
An additional level of insights
Concerning what the market insights provided by Opticom have meant to Lupin and what has been most valuable, Pietro points to the decision to invest in particular combinations of treatments, emphasizing that this is the most critical stage in their R&D and business development without going into specifics.
The results have also influenced their business decision-making, being added into their forecasting, because even if the research was qualitative, it was still very helpful to better understand what direction the market was taking.
All in all, the insights have been used on several levels and according to Pietro, further investment decisions within asthma and COPD are definitely going to be based on the results from this research.
Asked about the return of investment, Pietro confesses: “To be honest, we didn’t calculate the ROI, but the project was not at all expensive considering the huge amounts that have been spent on this treatment area, so the money we spent with Opticom was definitely worth it – more than worth it!”
According to Pietro, the main benefits of this specific project were that his team at Lupin got an additional level of insights on a practical level. There is a crucial difference between the people who work on the front line with patients and the opinion leaders, the high science: “We need to have a balance of both because we cannot ignore high science but at the end of the day we need to understand nurses on the floor, having issues reconstituting the product, for example. That is really a very valuable difference and something that Opticom understands.
So I am very satisfied, more than satisfied and very happy with the co-operation with Opticom!”