Tag Archives: life sciences

How Primary Research Helps Companies Succeed?

By Angela Justamante, M.S., Consultant at Insights in Life Sciences (ilS).

Market Research is an organized effort to gather information about target markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy. Market Research is one of the key factors used in maintaining competitiveness over competitors, providing important information to identify and analyse the market need, market size and competition. Market Research techniques encompass both primary and secondary market research. 1

Whereas secondary research, also known as desk research, involves the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research, primary research involves the collection of data directly from the source of knowledge (physicians, patients, payers, Company representatives,…).

Primary research is generally conducted by third parties, in order to maintain as much objectivity as possible. Those providers should ideally be familiar with the Efpia code of practice (which recommends how organization should interact with healthcare professionals and patient organizations) . 3 Data collected through primary research is interpreted using statistical or analytical methods and techniques to gain insights and support decision making.

Primary market research can be made through qualitative techniques such as in-depth one to one interviews or quantitative techniques such as questionnaires. 2

The following case studies, allows to gain a better understanding of how primary research can support companies’ decision-making.

Case study: NIVEA deodorant “Pearl and Beauty”

Beiersdorf is a big German personal-care company based in Hamburg, Germany, that includes brands such as: NIVEA, Eucerin and Atrixo. One of the main reasons of Beiersdorf’s success is the in-depth market research they conduct (in a global context). The aim of this market research is to gather end user views, which provides insights that ultimately result in the development of new products suitable for a global market.

A clear picture of how market research has helped New Product Development (NPD) at Beiersdorf, is the case of a NIVEA Deodorant called Pearl and Beauty aimed at young women.

The objective of this primary market research was to understand the motivations for using deodorant amongst female consumers. The research involved small discussion groups of females, which helped researchers understand the beliefs and motivations of this group and revealed an interesting finding: apparently NIVEA lacked a specific product that addressed ‘underarm beauty’ for the female consumer.

As a result, this primary market research revealed an unexplored market potential for NIVEA Deodorant. And, in order to fulfil this market need, NIVEA successfully launched to the market a Deodorant called Pearl and Beauty 4

Insights in Life Science (ilS) has successfully conducted primary research studies for a variety of life sciences companies, including: big pharma, biotech, start-ups, Tech Transfer Offices,  or even for other consulting organizations

We share three case studies below (slightly modified for confidentiality purposes), which try to illustrate how primary research adds value to our Clients:

Case Study 1:

A start-up biotech company focused in the field of neurology and ready to initiate a Phase II Proof-of-Concept for one of its products, was interested in understanding Key Opinion Leader (KOL) and payer perception of that product (“Product X”). For that purpose, ilS selected the best potential neurologists and payers (across the top 5 EU countries and the USA), prepared an exhaustive interview guide and held in-depth phone interviews with those experts (ilS InterviewsSM)

Insights collected through this primary research allowed our Client to understand expert perception of its Target Product Profile (TPP), and potential Market Access barriers. Those first-hand insights allow the Company to: 1. Revisit the Product Development Plan in an early stage, 2. Be better prepared to negotiate with licensors, 3. Attract investor attention during a potential fund raising phase

Case Study 2:

The Office of Technology Transfer of a Nordic University developing a new treatment in the field of Ophthalmology (“Product Y”), was interested in understanding end user clinical practice, existing unmet clinical needs, and market potential for “Product Y”. For that purpose, ilS conducted a primary research (ilS SurveysSM) with top ophthalmologists across the USA and the top 5 EU countries. With the support of the ilS NetworkSM, ilS identified the best KOLs, prepared an exhaustive online survey and collected expert insights. ilS analyzed the compiled information and shared a report with the Company allowing them to: 1. Decide whether or not to continue further developing “Product Y”, 2. Understand the potential market size for a rare ophthalmologic condition

Case Study 3:

A Global Pharma Company in preparation for the market launch of “Product Z”, needed to gain insights from several qualified oncologists in regards to their decision-making process, their product perception and values. For this purpose, ilS organised an onsite Advisory Board with several oncologists in order to capture their insights and gain consensus (ilS KnowledgeSM). More specifically, ilS created a well-designed moderator guide based on the client provided information, conducted the advisory board, collected the expert insights, analyzed the compiled information and shared a report. The Advisory Board provided sufficient insights to develop an optimal local strategy that could facilitate a smoother launch for “Product Z”

Those three case studies, illustrate how primary research supports life sciences companies to gather key data directly from the target customers, and adds value in regards to: target product profiling, clinical trial design, early market access plan, pricing strategy, licensing strategy, fund raising,…, which allow organizations to become more efficient and accelerate new product launch, which in the end will benefit patient health, which is what really matters.



  1. McQuarrie, Edward (2005), The market research toolbox: a concise guide for beginners (2nd ed.), SAGE, ISBN 978-1-4129-1319-5
  2. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secondary_research)
  3. Efpia Relationships & Codes: https://www.efpia.eu/relationships-codes/
  4. NIVEA- Case Study, International Market Research (http://bit.ly/2Dk8POh)

Personalized Medicine perspectives in the United States

By Alexandria Kyle-Hammer

p3The use of one’s genetic profile to inform and guide the diagnosis, treatment and even prevention of disease in individuals (i.e. personalized medicine),1  has made great strides over the last decade and is becoming increasingly popular and common as a treatment tool around the world. Although its use applies to the treatment of many diseases in various fields of medicine, it is worth noting that particularly in oncology, the role of personalized medicine has been revolutionary.

A recent Nature Reviews article, Defining and Quantifying the Use of Personalized Medicines2 , where the authors use the following definition for personalized medicine, 1) “A medicine that has a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or a European Medicines Agency (EMA) label stating that its choice as a treatment must be governed by results from a companion diagnostic test” 2) “A medicine that has a label that recommends (but does not require) the companion diagnostic, and at least one authoritative professional organization also recommends use of the test to guide treatment”2 , analyzes the growth in the use of personalized medicine from 1998 to 2009.

When personalized medicine first began to be used in the 1990´s the United States quickly became the world leader in the per capita use of biological personalized medicine. However by 2007 the US was overtaken by the EU, specifically the 5 major markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom (the EU5), and by 2009 the United States had also been passed by Japan. By the end of 2009 the U.S. market was 25% smaller than that of the EU5. In 2011 and 2012 only 8 out of the 69 new molecular entities (NME) approved by the FDA were personalized medicines (i.e. 11.5% of the NMEs).

With the great potential and many befits of personalized medicine it is important for the U.S. not to fall farther behind in this field. The article proposes that by studying over time the various geographical regions where the use of personalized medicine has been the most successful we may be able to draw conclusions about the policies and healthcare systems used that might be most useful in supporting the further adaptation of personalized medicine in the United States.

The article also offers several other interesting findings. One being that the majority of the usage and sales of personalized medicine has been focused in the area of Oncology, suggesting a great unmet need in the field. Many older drugs that were not previously used as personalized medicine have since been converted into personalized medicines, as it has become clear that they are more effective when used as such. An example of this is the drug Tamoxifen, which was commonly given to women with ER+ breast cancer. It became a personalized medicine when it was discovered that 65% of women taking the drug developed resistance due to a mutation in their CYP2D6 gene. Now women are genotyped for that specific mutation so that the right treatment is given to each breast cancer patient. This conversion of medicines already on the market to personalized medicines has impacted the growth of the field.

Although the overall use of personalized medicine is growing at a 22% Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) globally between 1998 and 2009, the United States is lagging behind when compared to Japan and the EU5.

The FDA and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have promised to invest heavily in the field to support the growth of personalized medicine and the effort to make it a reality in the USA. As part of this effort the FDA has released a set of guidelines to regulate the field of personalized medicine. Within the Agency they have also created a Personalized Medicine Staff (http://goo.gl/7FCkcr) dedicated to “addressing the opportunities and challenges associated with diagnostics used in personalized medicine”3.

While these efforts, along with others, are a step in the right direction the progress of personalized medicine in the US is still slow. Further investigation is needed to identify the essential driving factors of the growth of personalized medicine in order for it to reach its full potential as a treatment method. It is also possible that more “public funding for translational research, greater use of electronic medical records to better access patients’ test information, and incentives for developers to personalize both approved and investigational therapeutics”4 are needed to further drive the advancement of personalize medicine.

1 http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary=personalizedmedicine
2 Hu, Sean X., Murray L. Aitken, Arnold L. Epstein, Mark R. Trusheim, and Ernest R. Berndt. “Defining and Quantifying the Use of Personalized Medicines.” Nature Reviews Volume 12 (2013): 896-97. 1 Dec. 2013. Web.
3 http://www.fda.gov/downloads/scienceresearch/specialtopics/personalizedmedicine/
4 See footnote 2