Words by Isabel O’Brien
The USP of RWE is difficult to pin down: in which aisle of the super-pharma-mart would it be best suited? You could have it right at the entrance, in the grab ‘n’ go, a new essential of the pandemic era, or perhaps at the far end of R&D, nestled amongst the trackers and wearables, not forgetting market access, posing as tasty pastries to attract payers? However, there is also an underdog: the bright and shiny aisle of commercial.
“I think traditionally we’ve thought of RWE as being able to serve payer needs, to develop our access strategies, or perhaps as a commitment to further study the safety of our medicines after registration,” says Victoria Williams, Respiratory Medicine Commercialisation Leader, GSK, at eyeforpharma Barcelona virtual 2020. “But RWE can be a real disrupter in enabling brand differentiation as part of our marketing strategy.”
The example drawn was Tesla, a car company that has developed a fanatical fanbase for its products: “I don’t think this could have been predicted from the fact sheet that was available when Tesla was launched, around speed, engine capacity, or the performance of the electric car,” says Williams. “However, when people started driving Teslas, they experienced not only what it was like to drive the car, but also the customer service they got when they had to service the car. This led to a real-world experience that massively differentiated Teslas.”
The company has a Net Promotor Score of 97, compared to an industry average of 48, and 86% of Tesla owners go on to buy a Tesla as their next car. These figures are significant in terms of brand loyalty but also in terms of brand differentiation. This real-world experience has led this brand to stand out on the shelf.
So how can commercial teams use RWE to transform their customers into loyal supporters? For this, they must collect real-world data that is relevant to HCPs and their patients, then disseminate the RWE effectively, offering additional insights, which physicians may not be receiving from competing drug producers.
Again, looking to Tesla as an example, at eyeforpharma, Michael Seewald, Vice President, Global Evidence, Medical, AstraZeneca, says: “That’s an amazing global product, but your local experience with it will heavily depend on charging stations; you may have a great real-world experience, or RWE, in a country where you have those charging stations, but if you went to a country where that was not the case, the experience could be quite different. Some of the value of RWD is to look at the global product and contextualise it locally.”
RWE supplies wider and more specific data sets than can be gathered from randomised controlled trials, due to the larger patient group samples and information surrounding how a drug interacts with patients’ daily lives. This data is an invaluable asset to HCPs looking to provide the most targeted care at the most efficient rate to their patients.
“It could be quality of life measures, or satisfaction measures, or clearly adherence. These are all things that are much more useful to measure in the real world because these factors are controlled, and are often very good in a clinical trial setting. So, RWE gives the opportunity to get much more patient-focussed outcomes.”
It can also help physicians see how the drug interacts with other common medications that patients with certain conditions are routinely prescribed: “A real advantage of real-world studies is that we can look at our medicines in patients who have got comorbidities, which of course is a real challenge for our customers,” highlights Williams.
The commercial value of RWE is yet to be fully utilised, but the benefits of it extend far beyond the aisles in which it is currently in high demand. Whilst we cannot expect RCTs to be ousted as the most stringent form of determining drug safety, when it comes to how well a drug interacts with the day-to-day lives of patients, RWE is set to be a must-have item for HCPs when choosing which company’s drug to add to their basket.
RWE can be a real disrupted in enabling brand differentiation as part of our marketing strategy