Reaching Key Healthcare Providers and Patients: The Importance of Strategic Biopharmaceutical Publications

December 13, 2019

Overview

Each year, between 700,000 and 900,000 medical journal articles are added to the PubMed database managed by The U.S. National Library of Medicine.1 Many of these articles focus on key findings from biopharmaceutical research, conducted by companies that invest more than $70 billion annually2 in research and development of new therapies.

The data yielded and findings from these studies must be analyzed, translated into the context of present-day care paradigms, and made accessible through publication. The principal medium of medical publication—peer-reviewed medical journals—aim to educate a wide variety of audiences, including physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals; managers and other administrators; payers; and advocacy groups and patients.

Medical research is conducted and published in a highly-regulated process to ensure that manuscripts are scientifically sound and comprised of accurate information that is relevant to clinical practice and the medical community at large. This is why healthcare providers, payers, patients, and other groups readily turn to peer-reviewed publications for information and insights that influence patient care.

The road to publishing key findings can be complex, but it need not be daunting. A comprehensive, carefully-considered strategic publication plan can offer the structure needed to navigate the process and successfully publish with a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Key Audiences of Peer-Reviewed Publications

Healthcare Providers

Medicine is a rapidly-evolving field. By 2020, the total volume of available medical knowledge will double every 73 days3. Those who work in medicine must commit to lifelong learning in order to provide the safest and most effective care possible.

After formal education ends for healthcare providers, learning continues in the form of medical research publications, conferences, and symposia that keep the field abreast of new developments. Medical journals, according to former British Medical Journal MJ editor Richard Smith, can “make people think, set agendas, encourage debate, draw doctors’ attention to new things that may be important, and even legitimize subjects.”4 Healthcare providers use medical journals to find a “specific solution to a clinical problem” or to stay up-to-date on advancements in the state of the art.5

Physicians in particular invest significant time and trust in the findings presented in peer-reviewed medical journals. A 2015 survey of 550 physicians in the United States, Canada and Europe found that while there are many vehicles for conveying scientific information to physicians, data presented at medical conferences and information from nationally-known physicians are the two most trusted sources for credible information that influences treatment decision-making. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal followed as a close second. The least influential communications vehicles included journal supplements, newsletters, and product inserts.

Physicians across specialties and regions reported that clinical trial findings from pre-specified endpoints and pooled analyses from multiple trials had the greatest influence on how they practice, and that the best way for the industry to help them keep abreast of developments is by publishing research in top-tier medical journals.6

Thus, peer-reviewed medical journals and presentations at medical conferences present crucial opportunities for biopharmaceutical companies to present key findings to those who lead patient care.

Key information sought by healthcare providers includes:

  • Evidence of product safety and efficacy
  • Patient management
  • Management of adverse events post-treatment

Payers

Financial prudence is a primary concern for payers. George Isham, Medical Director and Chief Health Officer of HealthPartners, noted in a 2002 workshop on the role of payers in the clinical research enterprise, that payers have “tremendous opportunities for working together with researchers […] who are trying to determine how to deliver the care that is known to be efficacious.”7  Before adding a product to their portfolio, payers aim to verify that the product yields cost-effective outcomes with the fewest adverse effects as possible.

Key information sought by payers includes:

  • Cost
  • Evidence of product safety and efficacy
  • Differentiators from similar products

Pharmacists

The role of pharmacists has evolved to include more than safe and accurate medication distribution. Now, these professionals often work side-by-side with healthcare providers in specialized practice settings to assure proper management of therapy. Because of this shift, peer-reviewed journals play a pivotal role in the correct delivery of pharmaceutical therapies. 

Key information sought by pharmacists includes:

  • Evidence of product safety and efficacy
  • Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PKPD) data
  • Onset and mechanism of action
  • Cost

Advocacy Groups and Patients

While healthcare professionals are the core audience for medical journals, conferences, and symposia, patients are often the ones who make new research possible through their participation in research and the ultimate beneficiaries of biopharmaceutical research. Thus, advocacy groups, patients and their families may turn to medical publications as a resource.

Key information sought by advocacy groups and patients includes:

  • Evidence of product safety and efficacy
  • Cost
  • Accessibility
  • Available patient and caregiver support services

The Lynx Group

The Lynx Group advises healthcare professionals and companies in the presentation and publication of findings.

Unlike many advising teams, The Lynx Group publishes its own set of medical journals—for healthcare providers and for oncology patients—that afford the possibility of publication for clients.

Beyond our own publications, The Lynx Group provides strategic publication planning to companies and clinicians conducting pre-clinical and clinical research.

The end goal: to disseminate our clients’ research to the right conferences, congresses, symposia, and medical journals.

Stages for Publishing Key Findings

Publication of key findings is most advantageous in three stages: in advance of a product launch, immediately pre- and post-launch, and for new indications or label extensions.

In Advance of a Product Launch

Data published before a product launch could include pre-clinical data or data from phase one, phase two, or phase three trials. Because it can take up to a year to see a paper published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, products that will be launched in the next two to three years should have supporting data published well in advance of scheduled launch dates.

Immediately Pre- and Post-Launch

Findings published post-launch will continue to reinforce the findings of previous publications and continue the momentum behind a product launch. Even with primary data presented at conferences and/or published in medical journals, other data analyses may be published immediately pre-launch or post-launch. This includes but is not limited to secondary analyses, PK-PD data, and other additional data that will support primary phase three data.

New Indications or Label Extensions

Products tested for various indications may be approved in one and studied in others. Continuing to publish for those new indications is key to building a volume of published literature that supports each new indication.

Developing a Strategic Publication Plan

Step One: Assemble an Internal Planning Team

A dedicated internal planning team should be comprised of key internal stakeholders who develop and implement the publication plan. An internal planning team typically consists of a central figure who manages publications and other groups who work alongside that individual, including medical affairs groups, regulatory professionals, legal counsel, and marketing and communications professionals. The earlier the team is assembled, the better.

Step Two: Develop Thought Leader Advocacy

Researchers and biopharmaceutical companies work with internal investigators and external thought leaders to ensure rigor and accuracy of published research. Thought leaders may be involved with a company’s clinical trial or may be recognized as thought leaders in the therapeutic area of the treatment. Engaging thought leaders can be done through advisory boards, symposia and conferences, and one-on-one discussions in order to solicit feedback on a product and nurture relationships with individuals who will serve as brand champions.

Step Three: Review the Current Treatment Landscape

The first step in reviewing the current treatment landscape is to compile and assess all key pre-clinical and clinical data for publication, looking holistically at the kinds of data on hand. Then, a competitor analysis should be completed to assess what the treatment landscape looks like, key competitors and their publications and messages, and a SWOT analysis of the competitor’s product.

Step Four: Plan for the Future

After prioritizing data, planning teams should determine what to present at conferences with an eye toward reaching different target audiences, including nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and patient advocacy groups. Compliance guidelines, including financial disclosures, should be kept in mind.

Step Five: Execute the Plan

As the publication plan is executed, changes and adjustments may be required, including evaluations of when key data will be available, competitor milestones, and conferences or symposia to which data presentations will be submitted. Internal teams should be kept up-to-date throughout the execution process, including cross-functional teams such as public relations, marketing and market access.

Selecting Journals

Consider these factors when selecting journals for publication:

  • Impact factor
  • Affiliation
  • Acceptance/rejection rate
  • Frequency of publication
  • Open access
  • Initial review time
  • Timing from acceptance to publication timing
  • Circulation
  • Target audience

Barriers to Publishing

Submitting a manuscript does not guarantee acceptance. However, a strategic publication plan provides a structure that may increase the chances of publication in a medical journal. A thorough publication plan aims to lower or circumvent the potential barriers to publishing.

Data Availability

Lapses between study completion, data collection, analysis, and development of a study report can delay the publication of a full-length study.

Internal Alignment

Prior to publishing data, biopharmaceutical companies must agree on key data to publish and key messages surrounding that data. Without internal alignment crystallized in a strategic publication plan, time may be lost as these discussions on data, positioning, and messaging unfold.

References 

  1. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/stats/cit_added.html
  2. https://www.phrma.org/press-release/phrma-statement-on-jama-clinical-trials-study
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116346/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1383755/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3191655/
  6. https://www.ismpp.org/assets/docs/Education/AnnualMeeting/11thAM/Posters/32_traut_ismpp11am_poster.pdf
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220714/
Last modified: December 13, 2019
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