Cracking the code of the business promise in Asia


Global go-to-market strategies in the region require a revamped game plan.

While the importance of the Asia-Pacific region is increasingly recognized by most pharmaceutical companies, many also see it as a difficult market to break into. They are right.

First, Asia is not a homogeneous market. China’s policy, access and reimbursement environments are markedly different from those of India and Indonesia, and wealthier markets like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore each have very different despite a similar GDP per capita.

Second, Asian markets tend to be dynamic and move quickly. China, for example, has seen continuous health care reform in recent years. The reform has been led by the central government, as well as local authorities such as Hainan and the Greater Bay Area, which provide options for early access to innovative therapies. In addition, alternative reimbursement possibilities such as commercial health insurance (CHI) are growing rapidly. Urban CHIs, for example, have mushroomed in just three years, expanding to 200 cities from a handful, covering more than 100 million people in China. This underscores the speed and momentum of change in Asia that is rarely seen in the rest of the world.

Some Asian markets are also closely related in many ways. Regulatory approvals in Hong Kong and Macao would help ensure rapid access to China, while prices in Japan, Korea and Taiwan are referenced for China’s national drug reimbursement list.

Given the importance and complexity of Asian markets, global pharmaceutical companies would benefit from a strategic approach focused on executing a two-pronged game plan in parallel.

Asia Guide 1: Capturing Growth

A good starting point is to group different markets into key archetypes, considering characteristics such as regulation, pricing, and reimbursement potential, as well as clinical practices and competitive dynamics that may differ from archetype to archetype. ‘other.

Systematic prioritization is then necessary to identify the essential markets. Take a medicine for a rare disease, for example. It would be tempting to get it to market with the fastest regulatory approval first, but that could limit its commercialization in other markets, especially those with larger patient populations and higher price potential. .

To better understand the must-haves, in-depth insights with healthcare professionals, patients and payers in these markets will yield valuable insights into key value drivers. Incorporating these considerations into development and launch plans will go a long way towards improving the asset’s value, pricing and access potential in these markets, and towards a strong roadmap across Asia.

Asia playbook 2: Mapping roles

Asia has more roles to play than just being a “growth market”, ranging from R&D to manufacturing and supply chain, as well as cross-border partnerships and business model innovation.

In terms of R&D and innovation, big pharma has increasingly included Asia in global development plans and multi-regional clinical trials for key actives. In addition, Asia has become a source of innovation for certain diseases, given the differences in epidemiology and ethnicity, as well as the large population and patient base. The continent has also been at the forefront of innovation in business models, in part due to the dynamic and competitive nature of the region. Big pharma has revamped the traditional go-to-market model. In addition to upgrading engagements with physicians, once considered key stakeholders, some are partnering with healthcare providers to improve diagnostic and treatment standards. They are also looking for innovative ways to work with patients and advocacy groups to improve disease awareness, adherence and outcomes.

To be effective in these engagements, particularly in China, digital tools and mobile platforms have been deployed to improve user experiences, adherence and real-world results. For example, a pharmaceutical company built digital platforms in partnership with JDHealth and AliHealth, which empowered patients by providing a one-stop solution ranging from disease education to online consultation, filling prescriptions and compliance reminders. At the same time, it offers unprecedented customer insights, powered by artificial intelligence and big data. It also helps identify unmet needs and build lifelong relationships with patients and patient families.

Shiying He and others from Simon-Kucher’s Life Sciences Division in Shanghai contributed to this article.

Bruce Liupartner at Simon-Kucher & Partners, leading its life sciences division in Greater China


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