Diagnostic Adoption is dependent on Diagnostic Test Funding at Launch

Tessa Sandberg

In Part 6 of the series, ‘Personalized Medicine: What Pharma Should Do to Get Ready’, Tessa Sandberg of Diaceutics discusses why pharma should consider funding a diagnostic test at launch to ensure adoption.

Uber is a young company that, as you probably know, offers taxi services through a smartphone application linked to the customer’s credit card. Traditional taxi services consider Uber as a competitive threat due to its low fares and special customer services, which range from offering a bottle of water and mints to easy-to-use payment through the app. The most interesting thing about Uber is its implementation strategy. It all started in San Francisco, USA, and the company quickly expanded to other American cities. The founders were not scared to think big and challenged themselves to establish Uber worldwide. To achieve their goal, Uber invests in friend-to-friend commercialization to acquire new customers. Each time an Uber user invites a non-user to sign up and use the app for a ride, the Uber customer gets free credit on their account and the new customer gets the first ride for free. And this is happening worldwide… What a huge financial investment!

In the field of personalized medicine, a drug is launched together with a diagnostic test and the main challenge to ensure test adoption is consistently reimbursement. So, getting back to the Uber implementation strategy, how does this example relate to the pharmaceutical industry and, in particular, to the field of personalized medicine? In order to drive test adoption, pharma must first ‘socialize’ laboratories by offering the new test for free at launch for a certain period of time, in the same way that Uber connects with potential customers by offering them their first Uber ride for free, thereby driving product adoption. Diaceutics has noticed that an increasing number of pharma companies fund the diagnostic test at launch in conjunction with three best practices (Figure 1):

  1. Fund the diagnostic test at launch where possible
    Funding a new diagnostic test is a great way to drive test adoption in the market. Pharma should plan and adapt for each country as they all differ in terms of their regulatory process. For instance, in Germany, funding a diagnostic test at launch is not allowed.
  1. Fund the diagnostic test according to market requirements
    Reimbursement of a diagnostic test varies across countries, particularly in Europe, where every country has a different way of covering the costs. Due to the complexity, pharmaceutical companies need to understand the individual European markets. For instance, Italy’s reimbursement system is based on local catalogues and therefore some variation is seen between regions, whereas France has a national system for oncology which is controlled by the French National Cancer Institute (INCa).
  1. Ensure careful exit of diagnostic test funding
    While subsidizing a diagnostic test at launch is a good strategy, pharma should also carefully plan the exit by developing a robust strategy. In fact, if pharma suddenly stops subsidizing testing when no alternative reimbursement is in place, laboratories are likely to stop using the test.

Finally, Diaceutics believes that funding a diagnostic test at launch is a great solution to drive adoption because it addresses the time gap that exists before test reimbursement is implemented. In addition, this opens up a way to educate and communicate to laboratories on the availability of the newest test. Uber offering a free ride to a new customer is like pharma subsidizing a new diagnostic test at launch. While Uber wants to gain more customers, what is at the end of pharma’s journey? Driving drug adoption to deliver personalized medicine!


Figure 1. To ensure adoption of a new diagnostic test, pharmaceutical companies are encouraged to fund the test at launch according to market requirements and to develop a robust exit plan.


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