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February 28, 2020 0

As out of pocket healthcare costs grow, consumers and patients are sometimes faced with the challenge of being able to afford and take their medication as prescribed. Within the past two years, dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, FAAD had a situation where he had prescribed an anti-fungal cream to a patient. In a follow-up, he discovered that a treatment that should have cost her less than $8 ended up costing $1,200.

“I have drugs that I used to prescribe to patients that were $4. And now they’re $800 to $2,000. The same drug. It’s getting unsustainable,” he told Business Insider. (In 2019, several lawsuits were filed against multiple generic pharmaceutical manufacturers for alleged price-fixing.) As the Business Insider article noted, “Though [doctors] write prescriptions, most don’t know what drugs will cost their patient. That is, unless they hear back about issues.” Connecting with other dermatologists who were experiencing similar situations with their patients, Dr. Bhanusali ultimately founded Skin Medicinals to help combat this issue.

The medical entrepreneur had previously launched a platform to compare prices between different local pharmacies as well as an EMR platform for Dermatologists and even helped launch Amazon’s first private skincare brand. Skin Medicinals, an online platform that utilizes compounding pharmacies to specially mix medications for patients, emerged as a result of that work. Dr. Bhanusali is also an instructor in the Mount Sinai Health System and works in private practice in NYC.

While not entirely welcomed by some in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Bhanusali told DTC Perspectives that “overall, people understand the mission and respect what we are trying to do.” He added, “We are coming directly from the end users who WANT to reduce prices, and this platform is showing it is possible.” Since having launched Skin Medicinals in August 2018, the network has nearly 3,000 healthcare providers and dermatologists registered, as well as 73,000 patients. (A doctor must be registered with the platform before their patient can create an online account and begin ordering their medication for home delivery.) “This has demonstrated a true unifying of the field and become a mission for patient care nationally,” he noted.

Awareness and growth about this enterprise has been “organic” thus far. Dr. Bhanusali informed DTC Perspectives, that while there may be the possibility to do more direct marketing in the future, so far “this has been a grassroots effort from physicians to educate patients (and ourselves) about the rising drug costs.”

“We handle everything from Rosacea to pigment conditions, warts to chemotherapeutics. We also regularly provide options for inflammatory conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and more. [We] want to start with dermatology and hopefully inspire physicians in other fields to create similar [help for patients],” concluded Dr. Bhanusali in our interview. “While physician-led innovation tends to be rare, this is one of the first times that such a large number has come together so fast, showing the absolute need for innovation in the space. As prices continue to rise, it will be interesting to see if Skin Medicinals becomes a viable alternative to traditional pharma, one in which the physicians take control to better the access for patients.”


February 28, 2020 0

Earlier this month, Ogilvy Health kicked off their #EverydayMatters campaign, setting in motion a long-term commitment to “make an impact on cancer”. The endeavor began with a public relations and communications teammate suggesting the agency do something to support World Cancer Day as so many people across the globe are affected by cancer – whether it be patients themselves or maybe you know someone suffering from the disease.

Speaking with DTC Perspectives, Amy Graham and Sherry Novembre shared that this is currently a year-long project about which they are highly passionate, with each month highlighting a different type or types of cancer. Novembre, SVP, Management Supervisor at Ogilvy Health, shared that “the spirit of what we are doing is … small, regular gains that add up.” March’s effort sees the agency’s Young Professionals Network leading a colored band-aid drive for children to benefit the Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ’s Pediatric Wing. An additional focus in March will highlight colorectal cancer: an educational poster created to generate awareness among Ogilvy Health employees is now being shared publicly to help bring awareness to the masses, allowing other companies to access and distribute the poster share with and educate their staff.

Graham, client engagement officer at Ogilvy Health, detailed that another way they are trying to educate is through psychosocial aspects: why a patient may choose to be treated or not, or the challenges of navigating information during what many find to be overwhelming or could be a crisis-time, for example. By better understanding how decisions are made for treatments and during a treatment cycle, they are able to reshape education and support to better help those affected through a difficult time.

The #EverydayMatters campaign will be constantly evolving to ensure they are providing much needed education or support appropriately. Future elements will include walks/runs and other distribution materials. Novembre also shared that the team is in talks to partner with advocacy groups, partially via Ogilvy Health’s oncology business, “on activities to help amplify their voices through our channels.” Thinking in the long-term, this has the potential to take things beyond one year or beyond just the US, said Graham. The team is also exploring ways they may partner with their global offices to further efforts. The ultimate goal is to push the conversation further and create a strong call to action in a “lifelong endeavor,” Graham remarked.