Second Opinion: The Latest News From The Pharma Industry

2021-06-14 |  Shrinivas Anikhindi

Each month we send out a regular email summary of the latest headlines from across the Pharma industry that have caught our eye. If this sounds like something that interests you, please sign up to our monthly Pharma newsletter 'Second Opinion' here.

This month we'll talk about the unavoidable hot topic of the last two years – COVID. As the vaccines roll out, restaurants open, and the dust settles, the industry is starting to excavate the true impact of the pandemic, and assess the industry’s future.

We’ve also spotted a fascinating first-person piece about the clinical trials from 2019, which may be even more relevant now than it was then.

Here's everything from the Pharma Industry that you need to know this month:

A new way of engaging HCPS?



The 2021 Veeva Pulse report came out this week, featuring a plethora of insights about engagement with HCPs in this new post-COVID landscape. The key takeaway seems to be that things aren’t going back to the way they were anytime soon… or perhaps even ever.

Digital Was Turned Up To 11

This will be surprising to… well no one really, but digital engagement has been rapidly accelerated by COVID-19. What is interesting, however, is the degree of this acceleration – monthly virtual meetings went from below 10,000 in January 2020 to just under 800,000 in September 2020. Monthly rep-sent emails also saw a similarly meteoric rise.

More Chaos, More Engagement

This one surprised us. We would have expected that, with all the chaos caused by COVID-19, HCPs would have less time for pharma reps, but au contraire – rep-sent emails achieved an average open rate of 36%, up from 3% previously.

The Second Opinion Perspective: What's Next?

HCPs are voting with their feet – they’ve shown that they enjoy these new formats, and in a survey of 720 HCPs , 87% said they would want either all-virtual or a mix of virtual and in-person meetings, even after the pandemic ends.

Pharma’s next mission is to work out how to embrace this new normal, from updating the way they engage HCPs through to ensuring traditional sales colleagues are bought in to any changes made.

What else we've been reading

Free Trials: Should patients be the centre of clinical research?

We recently came across this white paper written in 2019 concerning Patient Centricity in Trials – and it is more relevant than ever.

The central thesis statement of this paper is that pharma companies are haemorrhaging money through poor retention rates and delayed timelines, due to poor management of patient experience.

Having seen a scenario where successful set-up, scaling and completion of clinical trials can mean life and death on a global scale, we concur that these principles should be considered gospel for clinical management in 2021 and beyond.

Bonus Reading: This article written by one of our Patient Experience Thought Leaders, Magnus Franzen, on how to implement Experience Management in Clinical Trial Design.

Digital: Silver Bullet or Missed Opportunity?

Have a look at this article from an independent publication, which gives a scintillating view of why pharma has failed to realise the vision promised by digital.

In our opinion, the premise is correct, but we don’t think it’s quite as bad as that. Digital has been slow to get moving, but when you consider the giant shift in infrastructure needed to truly enable digital, it’s no surprise. Pharma and their customers are getting there, slowly but surely. 

The statistic that caught our eye this week

15% increase in share of patients expected to receive remote consultations

An interesting statistic saying that Oncologists expect the percentage of patients received via telehealth to be 22% post-COVID, up from 7% pre-COVID.

To those telehealth hawks out there who have spent the last 10 years saying this was coming, this one’s for you.

From the 2021 IQVIA report: "Impact of COVD-19 on the pharmaceutical market."


If you have any feedback, or want to hear more about anything mentioned in this newsletter, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!