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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Thursday, August 28 2014 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

    Polo Tech Tee

    This week, Ralph Lauren suddenly emerged with a new sensor-based tech shirt. The “Polo Tech” tees were smartly introduced at the U.S. Open where the power of the Ralph Lauren brand has been at play for years. The company plans to incorporate the technology into more product lines going forward.

    The Polo Tech monitors your breath and heart rate, in addition to other biometrics. It also streams the stats to your iPhone or iPad. Ralph Lauren joins the crop of consumer-based brands like Nike, Apple and Samsung as it steps into the health space. In her Fast Company profile of the new product launch, writer Sara Kessler raised some very intriguing questions. Even though we now have the technology to quantify our activity, heart rate, and more, do we really want to? With companies eager and anxious to stay ahead of the curve, how does a brand know if it should follow this rapidly emerging trend or take a different/innovative path?

    Without a doubt, all of this new wearable technology is mesmerizing and seductive. (I myself was even lured into purchasing a SkulptAim a few months ago based purely on its ability to measure my muscle quality.) But as more consumer brands move into the health sector and develop devices and assorted quantifiers, it begs the question: if one is generally healthy and living day-to-day with few concerns about his/her well-being, how much does he/she really care about breath rate?

    The key to wearable techonology’s future in our daily routines may also lie in information sharing. Programs like Map My Run are successful, not only because they provide useful tools for runners, but because they also create a community—one in which users can share and support each other. Similarly, people dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes or COPD may find it invaluable to monitor their vital signs or medication intake and share it with their doctors. Wearable technology may find its greatest success in niche sectors.

    As the rush for health and tech innovation increases--and the marketplace becomes flooded with options--brands will need to move forward carefully and thoughtfully—and not simply follow the herd. Does developing a piece of wearable technology fall in line with your brand’s overarching promise? Will a piece of wearable technology help your brand in anticipating the needs of its consumers? Will a piece of wearable technology help your brand in creating integrated/seamless experiences? If the answers are yes, then join the wearable technology craze. If the answers are no, there may be other, more distinctive, ways for your brand to showcase its ability to innovate.

    Nicole Diamant is a Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth. You can follow her on Twitter @NicoleDiamant

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Thursday, July 31 2014 11:29 AM | Comments (0)
    WOBI

    Image: © Kreg Holt for WOBI

    According to strategy expert Rita Gunther McGrath, the competitive advantage is dead. Any edge your brand has over another will be trumped faster and more furiously than ever before. And in fact, most of the speakers at the WOBI on Innovation conference focused on these disrupters: brands that emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, and shake up a category so dramatically that all others in its category must hustle to stay relevant.

    McGrath advises a new, nimble mindset as the best way to protect your brand from being edged out, including changing your thinking about innovation and also your business strategy. Incredible agility is now required when we consider our products, budgets, and even our own careers.  Innovation should be incorporated fully into our company, not as an “extra,” but as another cost of doing business. Products and ideas should be championed for as long as they are effective and then relinquished for improved solutions. And, as employees, we have to consistently and proactively shape and nurture our career paths.

    If the WOBI faculty is an indication of the future, then healthcare in particular must be alert to the patter of disrupters. Technology looming on the horizon could threaten many healthcare brands; however, getting educated about what’s happening at the leading-edge and being open to possibilities gives brands an opportunity to progress and position themselves as forward thinkers, whether that means partnering with “disruptive” consumer brands or refocusing their own R&D.

    What does the future hold?

    If we are to believe tech entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa, our future is going to be super cool and very scary all at the same time. We’ll start with the (now) ordinary but end up with the extraordinary—and a number of questions about our privacy and consumerism in general, will be raised. What happens to the pharmaceutical industry when we can print our own medications? Or to doctors when robots perform all our surgeries? Our phones will track everything our bodies do, from fitness to heart monitoring, to medication absorption. Global data is growing at a rate of 59 percent per year, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Pills will come with sensors; medicine for conditions like cancer will be personalized. We’ll print hearts and lungs and bionic hands. Devices and tattoos on our skin will store our health records, credit cards, and IDs. Robots will continue to advance in medicine and beyond, replacing pharmacists, delivery vehicles, factory workers, and more.

    How does a brand adapt?

    So how does a healthcare brand stay agile during this tumultuous time? CEO Mark Bertolini offered some insight into the direction Aetna is taking that is inspiring for anyone in healthcare today. Perhaps most importantly, Bertolini has shifted the company’s perception of its customer, its marketplace, and its role:

    “Healthcare is focused on curing disease, not creating highly functional human beings. Our goal should be highly functional humans because they are productive, economically viable, and therefore happy. That should be our definition of how a healthcare system works.”

    Not only is this aspirational, it’s practical. Between the ACA, new technology, and concierge medicine, healthcare is more patient-centric than ever. Consumers now have the tools to understand, monitor, and take an active role in their health like never before. Bertolini goes so far as to say that if the healthcare system is structured properly and built around the individual, traditional insurance won’t even be necessary. He sees three main transformative principles for staying ahead:

    1. Move towards consumer-centric digital tools that empower customers to take control of their healthcare
    2. Partner with doctors and hospitals to share incentives and keep people healthy
    3. Exact concierge level service for chronic patients that is high touch and high tech

    Bolster your brand

    There are no guarantees against disrupters—and they’re also not always a genuine threat. For every Uber or AirBnB there’s a Pets.com or LaserDisc. However, taking the whole landscape in account, it’s very clear that we’re entering a brave new world for healthcare. Therefore, understanding the strength of your brand in the marketplace and developing future strategies around that can help you adapt to the industry’s turbulent new normal. What shifts should you make to foster innovation and keep employees engaged? How can you push new products forward and disengage from those that have run their course? Can you adopt new technologies to better serve your consumers? We don’t know where the next disrupter will come from, or when it will emerge, but by recognizing changes in our industry, employing forward-thinking techniques, and adapting to consumer marketplace trends, we can set our brands up for success and longevity.

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth. You can follow her on Twitter @NicoleDiamant.

    Interested in future-proofing your brand? Connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Diamant on Thursday, July 24 2014 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

    Miss Idaho

    Long relegated to the realm of the old-fashioned or to TLC daytime voyeurism, beauty pageants are suddenly relevant. In case you missed it, Sierra Sanderson just won the title of Miss Idaho 2014—and she rocked her insulin pump during the bathing suit competition. 

    Sierra in swimsuit

    While naysayers continue to pick on pageants for promoting sexist standards of beauty, Sierra made a small but incredibly impactful human statement. And brands should take notice. In a glorious mashup of social media, health empowerment, and forward thinking, the #showmeyourpump campaign epitomizes how healthcare is changing and where the future lies.   

    Health is no longer something hiding behind the closed-doors of a doctor’s office. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 25 percent of Internet users have read or watched someone else’s health or medical experience in the last 12 months. In the Age of the Internet, health is personal, visible, and increasingly public—something we openly share information about. 

    Child with insulin pump

    In fact, a report by PwC revealed that 90 percent of adults ages 18-24 said they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks. In light of these trends, healthcare brands need to keep pace by recognizing this shift in how health-related information is being consumed, shared, and exchanged. Patient to patient is now a powerful marketing device. 

    Reshaping brand strategy with the patient at the center is crucial for the industry. Whether it’s a medical device, hospital, or app, smart design and personalization will be key to staying relevant in consumers’ lives. As we take more ownership of our health and begin to share our medical data, we can expect health to extend into other sectors including fashion, tech, luxury goods, and more.   

    Healthcare brands that shift their thinking to the empowered consumer, crafting tools and services that are more than just functional, will lead the way. As health comes into the light, it’s possible that everyone will benefit—learning from others with similar conditions, sharing data with the best and brightest researchers, and understanding how to influence our own well-being, could result in a healthier world for us all.

    Nicole Diamant is the Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth. You can follow her on Twitter @NicoleDiamant.

    Curious about using brand strategies to boost your marketing efforts? Connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: John Breen on Wednesday, July 16 2014 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

    FDA word cloud

    The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a long-awaited draft guidance document for the development and assessment of proprietary drug names for prescription and non-prescription products. Regulatory decisions can sometimes impact the pharmaceutical industry in unpredictable ways, so this guidance is a welcome addition. But will these guidelines drive the industry toward greater consistency and predictability in proprietary name reviews?   

    Here are four key takeaways from InterbrandHealth’s analysis of the draft:   

    1. The FDA is instituting a number of criteria that can be objectively measured 

    One of the key challenges in naming research is that it produces few black and white results; we’re often forced to manage many shades of grey. Within the draft guidance document, the FDA aims to present more tangible metrics—pre-screening criteria, checklists, specific categories for its POCA tool (Phonetic and Orthographic Computer Analysis)—that should, in theory, result in greater standardization in the approach to name testing and therefore greater predictability in outcomes. The FDA also has provided its latest thinking on a number of topics that have created anxiety for our industry in the past, including brand modifiers and “dual proprietary names.” While some of these topics will still be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the draft guidance offers hope of greater consistency.   

    2. POCA plays a starring role in the guidance 

    When first released, the FDA’s POCA algorithm was viewed as one of many inputs to a name safety assessment. With the new draft guidance, the FDA is placing greater emphasis on the results of a POCA search than we have experienced to date. Now, the FDA has officially grouped POCA scores into three categories and is using these categories as the basis for a final safety evaluation. This is a bit of a departure for the FDA that certainly warrants monitoring.    

    The draft guidance document places greater emphasis on name similarity versus other contributing factors to medication errors than ever before. Many of the industry’s more practical arguments for why a proprietary name candidate will not be confused with an existing marketed drug in the real world—including differences in how products are actually prescribed, dispensed and administered—may no longer be persuasive. This is particularly true of names that score higher than 70 on POCA with an existing drug name. Despite differences in product characteristics, the FDA states that these highly similar names are at risk for confusion. At InterbrandHealth, we have found POCA to be a useful tool in prioritizing potential safety conflict. However, our experience also suggests that the results can range from inconsistent to confounding. So, it will be very interesting to see if POCA can, in fact, serve as a successful filtering tool.   

    3. The FDA is looking for more rigorous prescription simulation studies 

    The best practices summarized in the draft guidance for prescription simulation studies are similar to the FDA’s 2008 PDUFA Pilot Concept Paper. The FDA is requesting that at least 20 scenarios be included in a prescription simulation study, including marketed products. While this is feasible in a market research study, it will increase survey complexity. Applicants may need to rethink existing approaches and be prepared to invest more time and money to complete this “recommended” market research. 

    As noted earlier, over-the-counter (OTC) products fall under the draft guidance document, which implies that these sponsors may need to conduct more in-depth testing, including more prescription simulations.   

    4. There is no mention of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) 

    Our final observation addresses not only what’s in the draft but also what’s missing. In the 2008 PDUFA Pilot Concept Paper, the FDA alluded to the importance of FMEA in a sponsor’s name safety assessment. In a significant departure from this earlier stance, FMEA is now completely omitted from the draft guidance document. While sponsors are not being asked to complete this analysis, we are curious to see whether the FDA will continue to conduct FMEA as part of its safety review for proprietary name candidates. Currently, it appears that the FDA is asking the industry to generate initial hypotheses for a review through its requested methods and then this data will be fed into the internal evaluation. InterbrandHealth envisions this could limit the voice of a sponsor in its attempt to present a rationale for proprietary name selection beyond the outcomes of the prescription simulation studies and POCA results.    

    In summary, the draft guidance offers greater clarity and the possibility of increased predictability, but it is too soon to know if the endpoints summarized in the document will “guarantee” an FDA approval of a proprietary name candidate. The removal of FMEA, while reducing subjectivity, is particularly surprising. However, it appears that through the launch of this guidance, the FDA is looking to the industry to help shape and standardize the process with a goal of creating greater certainty in outcomes, which is a positive step.   

    InterbrandHealth is currently submitting comments to the FDA regarding the draft guidance document, and we look forward to uncovering its implications as the guidance comes to life through our work.   

    John Breen is the Executive Director of Analytics for InterbrandHealth. Lillian Smith is an Analyst for InterbrandHealth.    

    For more information about the drug naming process or the FDA guidance document, connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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  • Posted by: Ramya Kartikeyan on Monday, July 7 2014 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

    Making the jump from prescription to OTC

    At the NewYorkBIO 2014 conference, multidisciplinary speakers focused on the need for a clearer path to commercialization for pipeline drugs to promote regulatory efficiency and openness. In a call out to developments made by the FDA, the keynote speech delivered by the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, highlighted changes that have been introduced to bring new products to the market sooner, without compromising the integrity of the regulatory process as a whole.   

    An improved regulatory system runs at the heart of a changing healthcare market, which includes stratified patient populations, larger clinical trials, the growing role of biologics, and the diminishing value of the blockbuster drug model for the majority of companies. With the cost of developing most drugs reaching approximately $1bn from bench to bedside, more companies are looking for ways to extend the life of their drugs beyond their impending patent cliffs.   

    A separate panel at the NYBIO conference delved into the intricacies of shifting from prescription (Rx) status to over-the-counter (OTC) to capitalize on the brand equity built by the corporate manufacturer over years of marketing. With a potential loss of 85 percent or greater market share, drug manufacturers of select therapies will likely be able to successfully convert their Rx products into OTC products, but doing so comes with its own set of challenges. Each manufacturer is required to conduct a series of marketing assessments to ensure that the product adheres to existing guidelines on safety.   

    Due to the nature of the Rx to OTC switching process, the majority of the drugs that have successfully made the jump include drugs in categories such as migraine, high cholesterol, oral contraception, erectile dysfunction, antivirals, etc. The top 10 products in the OTC category currently generate more than $300m per year per drug, which offers a significant “cash cow” alternative for those products setting up to battle stiff generic competition. Even with a steady cash flow from OTC sales, companies are often forced to drop their prices to remain competitive and relevant within this new market dynamic. However, in light of the Affordable Care Act, industry specialists expect more and more patients to self-treat with OTC treatments before seeking the costlier option of seeing a medical professional.   

    So, should a branded drug asset compete on par with other products in the OTC market given these stakes? Can an Rx branded product cut through the “noise” and effectively capitalize on its brand equity to generate momentum in sales with a direct-to-consumer distribution channel? Pharma companies need to carefully consider these challenges and investigate if the R&D investment is worth the payoff.   

    Ramya Kartikeyan, Ph.D., is the Director of Analytics for InterbrandHealth.    

    For more information about product brand equity, connect with InterbrandHealth here.

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