Orphan drug manufacturers struggle with data management, report finds


Survey of orphan drug commercial operation leaders gives glimpse into market challenges

Manufacturers of orphan drugs struggle to uncover valuable commercial insights from their data management efforts, according to a recent industry report from Beghou Consulting. While 54% of respondents in Beghou’s 2021 Orphan Drug Commercialization Report called their data management efforts “somewhat” successful, only 14% said they were successful to a “great extent.”

“Given the small number of patients affected by each rare disease, biopharma companies need to deploy advanced analytics techniques to identify prescribing physicians and get their treatments to the patients who need them,” said Beth Beghou, founder and managing director of Beghou Consulting. “Before they get to analytics, though, companies must first establish sophisticated data management strategies. Those that focus on this foundational piece of the analytics puzzle will gain a competitive edge and uncover better commercial insights.”

Source: Beghou Consulting, 2021 Orphan Drug Commercialization Report

The report identified several pain points related to data management in the industry. Forty-three percent of respondents cited a lack of resources and capabilities. The same percentage cited inadequate data management partners or vendors. And half of respondents pointed to a lack of communication between departments.

The report also revealed challenges orphan drug manufacturers face when it comes to forecasting. More than 40% of respondents said they lack confidence in their forecasts. Likely contributing to this finding is the fact that a majority find it challenging to determine an addressable patient population, a product’s time to peak, and patient or market share.

“A company’s forecast has downstream impact on all its commercial efforts, from incentive compensation plans to sales force sizing and alignment,” commented Steve Trokenheim, partner at Beghou Consulting. “Conducting marketing research, patient journey studies and pressure testing assumptions early can help commercial teams fill gaps in a forecast model and develop better go-to-market strategies.”

Another key component of orphan drug commercialization is motivating the sales force. But 50% of respondents said their companies’ sales reps feel the incentive compensation plan is not reflective of their performance.

For its report, Beghou Consulting surveyed more than 60 commercial operation leaders about their activities, priorities and challenges related to the commercialization of orphan drugs.

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