Physicians’ Lag in Understanding of Personalized Medicine is Pharma’s Opportunity - Diaceutics

Physicians’ Lag in Understanding of Personalized Medicine is Pharma’s Opportunity

June 20th, 2016

Andrew Van Aken

Andrew Van Aken, of CAHG, discusses the findings of a survey by CAHG and the Adelphi Group which focused on the perceptions of personalized medicine among various medical professionals of the implications for pharma when launching a targeted therapy. 

What does a physician really think about personalized medicine? CAHG and the Adelphi Group recently completed a survey [2012] of 400 US and EU physicians, including primary care physicians (PCPs), neurologists, cardiologists and oncologists about their perceptions of personalized medicine. Questions ranged from how physicians utilize personalized medicine, what it takes for them to adopt these therapies and which company they think is leading the field. The study was a follow on to CAHG’s Landmark Physician Study, conducted in 2010.

When asked when personalized medicine will be integrated into their routine clinical practice, we were surprised to see only 52 per cent of US and 44 per cent of EU oncologists answered that personalized medicine was already part of their practice. After all, oncologists are the leaders in utilizing personalized medicine. Other medical professions are well behind in personalized medicine adoption: neurologists (US 6 per cent, EU 5 per cent), cardiologists (US 6 per cent, EU 3 per cent) and PCPs (US 4 per cent, EU 15 per cent). Stark differences existed in EU countries as 21 per cent of physicians in the UK and France replied that personalized medicine was part of their routine clinical practice, but only 9 per cent of physicians in Germany responded that it was.

We then asked physicians to name three companies they believed were at the forefront of personalized medicine. Overall, 19 per cent of physicians named Roche, 18 per cent Pfizer and 14 per cent Novartis. In our original study conducted three years ago, diagnostic companies Genomic Health, Celera and Myriad were ranked 6th, 8th and 10th, but have since fallen to 15th and 18th and 27th. More surprisingly was that 27 per cent of all physicians could not name any company that they believed was at the forefront of personalized medicine. Over 30 companies were named by all physicians, representing how fragmented the idea of a ‘leader’ in personalized medicine really is.

In our original 2010 survey, we identified a gap between how physicians receive information and how they want to receive information and found this gap was clearly evident in our new study as well, two years later.  Only about one quarter of EU and US physicians said they received personalized medicine information from key opinion leaders (KOLs), but over three quarters of EU and US physicians responded they would like to receive information from KOLs. Also, about a fifth of US and EU physicians say they are receiving personalized medicine information from pharmaceutical companies, but 50 per cent or more responded they would like to receive information from this source.

We believe there are several immediate opportunities highlighted from our survey. First, we believe there is a need to address the oncologists that are not currently utilizing personalized medicine therapies. The gap in education opportunities could be a reason why oncologists haven’t adopted personalized medicine in their routine practice. In our survey, 81 per cent of US and 80 per cent of EU physicians responded they would be interested in receiving non-promotional on-line resources supported by pharmaceutical companies. Pharma might benefit from developing more materials focused on the utilization of molecular diagnostics and targeted therapies, including patient selection and interpretation of results.

Another opportunity is to become a marketing leader in the personalized medicine sector. While some companies clearly have more products and a greater commitment to personalized medicine than others, physicians aren’t recognizing this commitment. Pharmaceutical companies could be focusing their efforts on promoting themselves as a leader in personalized medicine to build brand loyalty for future personalized medicine therapies. And, as noted above, there is a major opportunity for companies to develop KOLs in this area.

While there have been some major advances in personalized medicine in the last few years, companies are not realizing the full benefits of such innovation. It is time for pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to take leadership in the field and demonstrate they are truly market leaders.

Andrew Van Aken is Senior Strategic Planning Coordinator at CAHG. For more information about the survey, contact:


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