Breaking News: An On-the-Scene Report from CBI’s Coupon and Co-pay Conference

Since working with CBI to create the industry’s first co-pay summit back in 2013, the conference highlight of my year has been their annual fall Coupon and Co-pay Offer Design Optimization meeting in Philadelphia. This year was no exception. As conference chair, it was gratifying to see the excellent attendance and positive participant feedback, both indicating that the conference once again delivered on its promises. As I reflect now on the recent 2016 event, three overarching themes stand out:

1. Diversity of Stakeholders and Views. As reflected in recent client meetings and in the conference, today’s discussion of co-pay programs extends well beyond pharma brand managers. On the contrary, a 360° view of the co-pay industry now requires a wide range of perspectives and opinions. In order to provide that wide-angle viewpoint, this year’s conference encompassed an array of stakeholders, including pharma company staffers from brand managers to managed markets to finance to operations to cross-functional affordability and co-pay specialists. What’s more, we shared the stage with non-pharmaco experts who have strong opinions about co-pay programs, including pharmacists, healthcare system staff, and HMO and PBM representatives. Together, this rich mix of expertise and opinion provided a fertile learning environment for everyone in attendance.

2. Data Dominance. Perhaps more than in any of the preceding editions of the conference, this year’s speakers described and delivered a wealth of data resources that hold great promise for tomorrow’s co-pay programming. The deepening strength of program providers’ data capabilities was on clear display, as attendees saw in-depth presentations from co-pay providers and pharma professionals. There is simply no other single venue where you can see this depth of co-pay data on display.

3. Focus on Optimization. The final predominant theme at this fall’s co-pay conference was the emphasis on specific strategies program managers can employ to optimize their co-pay programs. Of course, this is at least in part a reflection of the deep data capabilities described above. But it’s more than just data; this year’s presentations had a newfound focus on the strategic value of seeing beyond the offer, channels, and vehicles, and recognizing the importance of post-launch program optimization.

One example of the industry’s emerging ability to help optimize ongoing co-pay programs was illustrated by Bob Caprara of ConnectiveRx. Bob described a new and unique analytic expertise based on a recently expanded ability to integrate previously siloed data resources. As he explained it, his data warehouse includes the details of millions of ConnectiveRx-managed co-pay claims. These data can now be integrated with live, real-time information from thousands of chain and independent pharmacies and the largest, aggregated physician EMR network.

Together, this new integrated data stream provides a rich landscape that enables us to answer a question that the coupon business has been asking for years: Where do coupon patients come from—new to therapy, restarts, switches, or continuing? The answer, as happens so often in life, is, “it depends.” For one thing, it depends on the therapeutic class. As shown in Figure 1, coupon-using patients in three leading classes—diabetes, SSRIs, and cardiovascular (CV)—initiate their coupon use from dramatically different starting points. For diabetes, switch patients have an outsized share. Conversely, for SSRIs, nearly 60% of coupon users are new to therapy (NTT), a much higher percentage than for diabetes or CV. And for CV, the leading source of coupon patients is continuing therapy.

But there are even bigger differences by channel. As you can see in Figure 2, for diabetes products, the pharmacy channel delivered the highest percentage of continuing patients (48%), while rep-delivered coupons delivered the highest percentage of NTT coupon patients (51%).

patient-loyalty_figure-2It’s also important to note that these percentages can change significantly due to market events such as LOEs, managed care formulary changes, new entrants, changes to competitive offers, etc.

So what does all this mean? My point in discussing these rather granular data points is not to try to prescribe the exact channel strategy for a particular brand. On the contrary, the point is to deliver a tiny sample of the conference-presented data and suggest some ways that such data can provide brand managers a tremendous new gateway to program optimization. First, in a launch scenario it can guide the selection of initial offers and channels based on a historical review of comparable brands in the same therapeutic area and with similar brand position and goals for patient initiation and retention. Second, it can generate more scientifically appropriate predictions for program uptake and overall adherence. Finally, by monitoring these metrics over time, they can provide valuable insights for program adjustments.

In the end, it’s good to know that CBI’s coupon and co-pay conferences serve as an independent forum for new developments in the co-pay arena. We’re already at work building the agenda and speaker mix for the next installment, tentatively set for April 4-5 in San Francisco. Hope to see you there!

  • Chris Dowd

    Chris Dowd is Senior Vice President of Market Development at ConnectiveRx. In his more than 25-year career, he has become a recognized voice in the patient affordability and specialty medication arena, pioneering prominent copay and patient affordability programs, and creating innovative solutions for his clients.


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