Kantar Health Blog

Identifying unmet needs to facilitate international and local portfolio planning

by Graeme Jacombs | Sep 28, 2012
Graeme Jacombs

Earlier this week, I delivered a presentation at EphMRA Asia with Kenneth Shearer of MSD KK on approaches to identifying unmet needs and how they can be applied to strategic portfolio planning. Our focus was on Japan and comparing the unmet needs we see there with those in China, the US and the five EU markets.

To ensure we focussed on the most relevant indications, we tapped into our proprietary database of self-reported “real-world” patient-level information (the largest in the world with over 1 million respondents) and epidemiology projections from wholly owned data that spans up to 190 indications across 13 developed and emerging markets. The resulting report, which showed the therapy areas with the highest level of prevalence across all the countries, also revealed considerable levels of consistency between countries.

For example, over a dozen of the top 20 conditions in Japan were consistent with the US and EU, highlighted here in blue.

Figure 1

unmet patient needs Japan


Figure 2.

unmet needs pateint prevelance Japan

There were also very notable differences in prevalence: almost all of conditions changed in priority order, and more than one-third, highlighted above in orange, were different in Japan compared to both the U.S. and EU. Interestingly, many of the conditions which differentiated Japan from the US and EU also featured in the top 20 list for China, suggesting that Japan and China share some unique similarities that are not shared with the West.

To identify unmet needs in those highly prevalent conditions, we examined treatment rates and the quality of life of sufferers in each market. This revealed higher levels of unmet need in China than in Japan, the US or EU, in line with our expectations of this emerging market.

All of this data only gave one perspective on which conditions had the highest level of unmet need and therefore potentially offer the greatest opportunity for pharmaceutical companies. We delved into the Japanese market in greater depth, exploring not only quality of life, but also work impairment, frequency of hospitalisation and patient satisfaction. Each of these analyses shed new light on the issue of where the greatest levels of unmet need could be found. Overlaying this data with the projected growth rates for each condition over the next five and 10 years provided further insight into which conditions should be prioritized within a pharma company’s portfolio in Japan.

The overall learning was the value of using multiple perspectives to reveal unmet needs in a market, utilizing direct costs, such as hospitalization, humanistic measures such as quality of life and patient feedback, such as satisfaction. When we combined these factors with disease prevalence and growth rates, it provided MSD KK with a valuable model that could then be overlaid on their own pipeline. It also helped them establish corporate priorities and therefore supported their decision-making processes during strategic portfolio planning.

Download our full presentation to read about the MSD KK project in more detail and please do feel free to comment or ask questions.


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