Branded digital support for rheumatoid arthritis patients in Japan looks competitive and encouraging, says GlobalData

The rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment landscape in Japan is highly competitive with many novel disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). To stay ahead of the competition, the branded support offered to RA patients by companies marketing these drugs looks competitive and encouraging, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData’s report, ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis: Global Drug Forecast and Market Analysis to 2027, Japan contributed US$1.9bn to the global RA market sales in 2017, representing 8.0% of total sales across the 8MM*, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of only 0.3% until 2027 due to stiff competition from biosimilars in the future.

In Japan, anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) biologics hold more than 50% of the market share as they are the most preferred drugs in the second- and third-line treatment. Competition from late-stage pipeline products, patent or exclusivity expirations for marketed products and launch of biosimilars pose a great threat to the existing players in the market.

Venkat Kartheek Vale, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “RA being one of the major indications in the inflammatory therapy area is of a great commercial interest to pharma. With increasing competition, branded patient support programs (PSPs) have become the mainstay for companies to engage and deliver continuous support to patients using their products and this trend is clearly apparent in Japan.”

GlobalData’s ‘Digital Marketing Intelligence’ identified branded websites from the following companies with approved products for RA in Japan – AbbVie’s Humira, Pfizer’s Enbrel and Xeljanz, UCB / Astellas’ Cimzia, Janssen / Mitsubishi’s Remicade and Simponi, Lilly’s Olumiant, Roche / Chugai’s Actemra, Sanofi / Asahi Kasei Pharma’s Kevzara, Astellas’ Symraf, and BMS / Ono Pharmaceutical’s Orencia.

Among the existing branded websites, traffic was highest to AbbVie’s E-humira.jp for Humira, BMS / Ono’s Rumachitearoom.jp for Orencia, and Mitsubishi’s Rumachi21.info for Remicade with more than 50K visits in the last nine months.

An analysis of the traffic for the last 18 months (October 2019 – June 2019 vs. July 2019 – March 2020) revealed consistent good traffic to AbbVie’s E-humira.jp, Janssen’s Simponi.jp, and Pfizer’s Xeljanz.jp. Sanofi / Asahi Kasei Pharma’s Kevzara, which was launched in February 2018 in Japan received higher traffic (45K visits) during October 2019 – June 2019 vs. July 2019 – March 2020 (28K visits), indicating higher promotion of the product after the launch.

Brand support through websites seems adequate in Japan; however, extending support features available on websites to mobile apps will provide a lot of convenience to patients, thus providing greater visibility to companies’ initiatives and enhance the awareness of brands to a larger extent.

Vale concludes: “Digital communication through online platforms is relatively well-positioned in Japan compared to the US and *EU5 countries and provide companies with higher chances of retaining patients if they offer comprehensive support right from the treatment on-boarding to adherence and long-term maintenance, which in turn can significantly help the companies in sustaining their presence in the market and protect their market share.”

*8MM: The US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan and Australia.

*EU5: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

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