Analyst Notes: New kids on the block - How are biosimilars affecting drug loyalty in rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis brand loyalty shaken up by biosimilars

After years of speculation, discussion and heated debate, anti-TNF biosimilars have finally arrived in the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) market in both Europe and the US. Now that marketers have had time to make their case, what views have doctors formed about these new alternatives? And what impact have the latest arrivals made on the pecking order when it comes to traditional marketing measures of brand loyalty and satisfaction?

Based on a survey of 100 US rheumatologists and a further 150 rheumatologists across France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK, this latest report form FirstWord shows how physicians feel about the multitude of treatment choices now available to them for RA. 

Respondents are categorised as either Promoters, Passives or Detractors for 10 US brands and 12 European brands. Key market players are all covered in the survey including Humira, Enbrel and Simponi as well as biosimilars -  Inflectra, Benepali and Remsima.

All the brands included in the survey are awarded a 'Net Promoter Score,' which offers a unique way to compare brand satisfaction on a like-for-like basis. This provides a 'level playing field' that marketers need in order to see exactly where their drug stands.

The biosimilar effect

The question on everyone's lips is what difference has the arrival of biosimilars made to the rest of the RA market? See how Inflectra, Remsima – and Benepali in Europe – have each been received by doctors. Read individual comments on each drug; find out how they compare to the established players in the loyalty rankings; and discover what key brand messages doctors have heard. This is compelling reading not only for marketers promoting biosimilars, but also for those competing against them.   

Loyalty is hard to find

Compare each brand against the rest for loyalty and the results are interesting, even for those brands with an established foothold in the market. This report includes a Loyalty Score that reflects the proportion of Detractors, Passives and Promoters for each drug and awards points accordingly. A score of less than 3.0 is one indicator marketers should take notice of as it shows that doctors are not particularly loyal to their brand and are therefore likely to switch. In the US, only one drug managed to scrape a 3.0; in Europe, the average across all 12 drugs was only a fraction over 2.0. Clearly strategies to encourage loyalty should be a priority.

Doctors are satisfied – isn't that a good thing?

Across both versions of the survey – in the US and Europe – the majority of doctors are satisfied with the drugs on offer for RA. On the surface, this is a positive and shows that doctors are generally pleased to have such a wide range of choices. The problem arises for individual drugs as, when most are positively received, it's much harder to stand out from the rest or inspire any real loyalty. Delving under the surface of these top-level scores and looking at the detail behind the data is revealing. In particular, the verbatim comments should make interesting reading for drug companies looking to find a competitive edge.

Full survey results now available

The latest FirstWord report, NPS+ Rheumatoid Arthritis is now available in two versions – one based on survey results from the US and the other on the EU5 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).

For more information, contact FirstWord or call +1 212-220-0880 or +44(0)20.7665.9240

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