On March 1st I went for a talk on Target Product Profiles at UCSF. Patrick Scannon, Xoma's Founder and CSO spoke on how drug discoveries can be made into commercial realities with the help of a Target Product Profile (TPP). A TPP is the first step towards creating a drug label. A TPP is defined as a communication tool to help people in academics (discoverers of drugs in labs) to communicate the value of a drug to investors (people with $ but not convinced). This takes the drug from discovery through development to approval/market entry. It also helps keep various departments/functions such as regulatory, manufacturing, sales, marketing, etc. on the same page.
As drug discovery takes many years to commercialize (about 12 yrs) it is important to have clear goals (TPP) and to start with the end (FDA approval) in mind and work backwards. The TPP defines who the drug is for, what disease it cures, how large is the market, how is it administered and more details as seen in the image. Defining the unknowns upfront helps communicate the goals better to the FDA (governing body that ultimately approves if a drug can be commercialized). The TPP helps in thinking of launch strategies too. For example, some drug companies first launch in an orphan market (diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people) and then larger markets as its faster to get approval in orphan markets and grants are available to support you in this process. Some companies also choose to launch in international markets before local markets as approval is faster for certain diseases.
Often changes in the IP landscape or manufacturing processes or technical difficulties result in changes to the TPP and CEOs are forced to make a difficult decision to move ahead with the changes or drop the product. If the CEO agrees to go ahead she/he needs to update the TPP and keep all in the loop. The TPP can be used to increase the value of the company by finding ways to create additional IP, communicating improved benefits and decreased adverse events. CEOs can also use the TPP to forecast different scenarios of the drug. For example, a target scenario, a minimal scenario and an optimistic scenario where the CEO predicts the characteristic of the drug and thus his strategies under these three scenarios.
I attended the Health 2.0 conference on Oct 7th in San Francisco. I would like to share with you my top 3 promising health 2.0 companies. Unfortunately, my views on this post could be biased as I only attended the first day of the two day event. The conference was an eye opener to me not just because of the sheer number of disruptive healthcare startups out there (Health 2.0 tracked 850 companies over its past 4 annual conferences) but also because of the strides taken in empowering the patient.
So, what is Health 2.0? The shift from traditional in clinic, doctor-dependent healthcare to patient empowered healthcare via web-based and mobile technologies that harness collective intelligence and predictive analytics of user generated communities. Of course, with disruptive technologies that challenge the norm, its only a matter of time when an integrated solution for all these different platforms would provide a more comprehensive solution. I look forward to health 3.0 and the convergence of such platforms.
1. Unity Medical's Health Risk Assessment (HRA): I chose this for 2 main reasons- first, it addresses the wellness market and second, its personalized health recommendations and innovative data collection method using video transforms patient engagement and education.
The wellness market is aimed at keeping people healthy and disease free. It's a huge market and is what healthcare should be about -keeping people healthy and not healing people after they fall sick. Basically, the tool utilizes a female guide that alks to you through video to collect some basic health information thus increasing participation and ease of use by transforming a boring process of collecting information (usually with a form in traditional methods) into a more engaging process. The information is then processed and a set of personalized recommendations are given to you. This should increase patient engagement and reduce the burden on traditional methods of patient education. It's also iPad compatible and customizable for doctors that want to collect specific information.
2. Sharecare: Jeff Arnold, the creator of WebMD, has started Sharecare, a new venture, with Dr Mehmet Oz. Sharecare, according to Jeff, is the "next generation of WebMD". The value of Sharecare comes from a 3 tiered pyramid. At the top lies the user communities answering questions related to 47 nodes ranging from allergies to women's health. In the middle lies the greatest value of Sharecare which is the power of the Sharecare network. Jeff has signed celebrities such as Dr. Oz, authors, powerful health groups such as the American Diabetes Association, local hospitals such as the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Industries such as Walgreens and Colgate. They help in providing quality content to the questions while establishing their brand through a Facebook-like page dedicated for each of them to add videos, user testimonials, etc. At the bottom of the pyramid is the accessibility of this service which is spread through mobile applications and extensive sharing and search supported features.
3. HealthLine: I chose this company for its innovative method to educate consumers. Healthline has collaborated with GE to provide visually enriched stunning 3D visuals of how diseases affect the body. These videos make medical jargon easy to understand empowering consumers to make better health decisions. Healthline's health map is a visual search tool to better navigate the vast resources on the site. You can even customize and add notes to the medical information on the site.
Some other companies that piqued my interest:
- MedHelp: builds health related mobile applications such as I'm Expecting (to help you through pregnancy) and Sleep On It (to track your sleep patterns and optimal sleep time) and boasts of the largest online health community
- PatientsLikeMe:helps find patients with similar diseases to learn from their stories and to build a supportive network to help through the emotional turmoil of the disease
- Qpid.Me: helps people make better decisions before having sex, by verifying their HIV/STD results and communicating these results through text messaging
I walked with thousands of supporters today to end Alzheimer's. I walk as I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's two years ago. Currently, there is no cure for this progressive and fatal disease. It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States and 5.3 million Americans are living with this disease. I believe this disease is worse than others not just because it has no cure or is fatal but also because it is emotionally exhausting for caregivers to watch as the disease destroys a critical part of our everyday lives - memories. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing memory loss, so watching my grandmother forget my name or the memories I cherished with her was the hardest part. But I also believe there is hope and someday soon there will be a cure. I encourage you to donate to the Alzheimer's Association or sign a petition (by 9/21/10) urging Congress to increase funding for research and protection of vital Alzheimer's programs, as I did. We can make a difference.
I recently wrapped up my summer internship at HealthCrowd, a telehealth startup. You would use HealthCrowd to connect with holistic practitioners such as nutritionists and therapists using its online telehealth platform. Basically, it's Skype with patients on one side and a bunch of doctors on the other side (though the vision is much more than this) thus making healthcare more convenient and accessible than in-clinic consultations for specific health issues. I learned a lot from my first experience in online marketing and healthcare after having spent 4 years in technology and consulting. Two aspects of this concept make total sense to me. First, the use of technology to treat specific diseases makes healthcare convenient and accessible and reduces the dependence on traditional channels. Second, the greater vision aims to use the wisdom of crowds to provide actionable recommendations to given symptoms. As with all startups HealthCrowd needs to overcome certain challenges to be successful. The biggest challenge is to gain trust of patients seeking treatment. Would you pay HealthCrowd for a teleconsultation? Only time will tell.