Bharat Lakshminarayanan, Sr. Director, HIV Payer Strategy & Marketing, Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) has historically received limited payer attention. That was something Bharat Lakshminarayanan had to change in his previous role at Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) as Director, Payer Strategy and Marketing. GBT was preparing to launch Oxbryta, its first product in the U.S., and Bharat took the reins in driving collaboration between marketing, payer account management, and their agency partner, Intouch Group.
Bharat focused the market access strategy on recognizing payer, patient, and HCP needs and influences throughout the planning process. In order to effectively make the case for payers to provide access to novel SCD treatments like Oxbryta, Bharat and the team developed programs and resources that showcased the SCD patient journey and burden of disease. These “real-world patient stories” helped to elucidate the unique unmet needs of this disease state in a compelling manner.
In fact, Bharat ensured the value compass was always pointed to addressing unmet patient needs and providing access to therapy for underserved communities. And even though pain management was historically the focal point of care for SCD patients, the team made the case to understand how downstream clinical sequelae impacts SCD patients of all ages if not appropriately addressed with new therapies such as Oxbryta.
Although early in launch, so far, the majority of payer coverage policies and formularies are aligned with the Oxbryta product information. Ultimately, the team’s work in limiting inappropriate formulary controls and patient out-of-pocket burden will allow patients to be initiated on therapy sooner and stay on therapy longer.