The importance of a sound medical affairs team to the commercial success of a marketed drug cannot be understated, particularly in the oncology setting, where treatment paradigms are shifting rapidly based on a constant flow of clinical data and emergence of new therapeutic options.
Feedback from oncologists in a poll conducted by FirstWord in May confirms the vital role medical affairs personnel can play in the relationship-building process between doctors and drugmakers by offering accurate, unbiased scientific information, while facilitating patients access and education.
Given their potential impact, FirstWord's FirstView research unit asked oncologists to rate their experiences with medical affairs teams associated with various cancer drugs to gain a better perspective on how they stack up relative to one another.
A total of 100 respondents were surveyed, including 70 medical oncologists and 30 haematologist-oncologists (defined as treating at least 50 percent of patients for a solid tumour indication), who were asked to allocate 100 points to indicate the relative quality of their overall experience during interactions with various teams over the previous six months.
Among the drugs included were marketed products in the breast cancer, melanoma, non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) or renal cell carcinoma (RCC) spaces, as well as a handful of investigational immuno-oncology products making their way through the clinic.
The results, which appear in a FirstView report slated for release this week (request further information), confirm that Roche has successfully established an effective medical affairs organisation to complement one of the most productive R&D engines in the oncology space. The company received the highest overall score for its work in supporting the commercial effort behind Avastin (bevacizumab), while also snagging slots three through five for its work with Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine), Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Herceptin (trastuzumab).
Pfizer earned the second highest score for its work with Xalkori (crizotinib), which was approved by the FDA in 2011 for a genetically defined subset of patients with NSCLC.
Respondents are apparently less impressed with the quality of interactions with the medical affairs teams tasked with supporting Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Novartis' Afinitor (everolimus), which finished in a tie for sixth.
Bringing up the rear among the marketed agents is Zelboraf (vemurafenib), a melanoma drug that is co-promoted by Roche and Daiichi Sankyo in the US.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lowest scores went to four unapproved immuno-oncology products, for which companies have yet to begin concerted commercialisation efforts.
Click here to request full details of this survey and report.
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