Engaging with Laboratories (Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready) - Diaceutics

Engaging with Laboratories (Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready)

October 27th, 2015

Tessa Sandberg

In Part 7 of the series, ‘Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready’, Tessa Sandberg of Diaceutics discusses the importance of pharmaceutical companies engaging with laboratories, which are often the forgotten stakeholder.

Have you ever met someone who stopped running a marathon after 37km because he got bored? Have you ever heard of someone building a house and planning to add the roof the following year? Would you ever consider reading a thriller without finding out ‘whodunnit’ in the final chapter?

You would think that forgetting to run the last mile doesn’t really happen often and would be a very silly thing to do. You might not recognize yourself or anyone you know from these examples. However, pharmaceutical companies do actually forget to run that last mile—they forget to engage with laboratories.

Diaceutics has come across many examples of pharmaceutical companies planning in great detail and rolling out their robust drug and diagnostic development and commercialization strategies. But when they are nearly at the end of the process they forget to engage with laboratories to communicate the benefits of their precious newly-launched diagnostic test.

“Labs were traditionally the forgotten stakeholders”, says Maria Fe Paz of Labceutics, a division of Diaceutics that aims to enable efficient testing in laboratories. The main reason why pharma forgets to engage with laboratories is probably because labs used to play a smaller role before the arrival of personalized medicine compared with today. Maria thinks that laboratories today play a key role in performing the diagnostic tests because the results they provide will guide the choice of the therapy the patient will receive. She explains, “In this rapidly evolving landscape of personalized medicine, laboratories play a critical role moving forward. Upon this realization, the other stakeholders, including pharma and diagnostic companies, start to leverage laboratories’ specialized expertise for a faster and more successful implementation of companion diagnostics, through more interconnected collaborations.“

Diaceutics has identified three best practices to ensure that pharma engages with laboratories. These practices are based on Labceutics’ expertise that aligns the efforts of pharma and diagnostic companies to achieve efficient diagnostic testing in laboratories:

  1. Define a lab footprint
    Defining the lab footprint before the test launch is essential for having the test ready in all territories. In the USA, the two companies Quest and LabCorp provide most of the laboratory services. However, in Europe and Japan, for instance, the laboratory sector is highly fragmented. Therefore, pharma should ensure that the right number of laboratories are ready to run the test from the day of launch.
  1. Engage and leverage laboratories
    Multiple hidden hurdles are faced when introducing a new test to the market, such as the test set-up, the costs of test implementation and selection of the test method/platform. Pharma should engage with pathologists and labs to understand their needs and any potential hurdles for the test. Finally, leveraging laboratories will drive test and drug adoption.
  1. Provide communication about the test and its protocol
    An additional factor to ensure test adoption is to provide enough information about the test and the protocol. Communication between pharma and its stakeholders has been discussed in more detail in Part 5 of this series, Pharma Communication and Education for Stakeholders (Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready).

Laboratories and pathologists are often overlooked by pharma and we can see that they are the forgotten stakeholders. Engaging with laboratories will drive test adoption and, if we are talking about a companion diagnostic test, it will drive drug adoption as well. In summary, always run the last mile and think of the laboratories as one of your key stakeholders. When you do cross that finishing line, you may have won first prize.

Figure 1. When launching a new Dx test, engaging with laboratories is like going the last mile during a marathon. Don’t forget the laboratories – an important stakeholder.




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