Significant scope for key players in Japan CKD market to strengthen digital presence, says GlobalData

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) disease or the need for dialysis or kidney transplantation. Currently, AstraZeneca’s sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor Forxiga (dapagliflozin propanediol) is the only marketed therapy available for the treatment of CKD in Japan. Against this backdrop, key players in Japan’s CKD market have significant scope to strengthen their digital presence, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Historically, vitamin D analogues (calcitriol and alfacalcidol) were used in CKD treatment. SGLT2 inhibitors evolved as novel treatment options with proven efficacy to improve glomerular hemodynamics and modify local and systemic mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of CKD and CV diseases. The pipeline drugs in SGLT2 class include Boehringer Ingelheim’s Jardiance (empagliflozin) and Janssen / Mitsubishi Tanabe’s Canaglu (canagliflozin), currently in Phase III and pre-registration, respectively.

According to GlobalData’s ‘Pharmaceutical Intelligence Center’, the number of diagnosed prevalent cases of CKD in Japan is increasing slowly at estimated an annual growth rate of 0.1% from 1,813,195 in 2021 to 1,831,595 in 2030.

GlobalData’s ‘Digital Marketing Intelligence’ identified limited digital support for CKD patients in Japan with only one unbranded website from Chugai Pharma (Jin-lib.jp). Astrazeneca offers branded content for Forxiga targeted at healthcare professionals through AstraZeneca’s website (Med.astrazeneca.co.jp). Furthermore, mobile apps and social media support are entirely lacking.

Neha Myneni, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Limited activity in the digital space highlights the need for key players to focus on digital initiatives to promote disease awareness and encourage patients to initiate treatment. Forxiga, being the first-ever and only medicine approved in Japan for the treatment of CKD in adults regardless of their type 2 diabetes status, currently has the edge over its competitors. AstraZeneca could leverage on its strong presence in the market to extend cross-channel support to CKD patients in Japan.”

An analysis of traffic for the websites over the last 12 months (Nov 2020 to Oct 2021) revealed significantly high traffic to Chugai Pharma’s unbranded website (1.51 million visits). Traffic to AstraZeneca’s website (~570,000 visits) includes traffic for other indications. Although Chugai Pharma offers a conventional therapy for CKD, Rocaltrol (calcitriol), the site is generating massive traffic.

Ms. Myneni concludes: “Since CKD is a disease with severe complications that can further lead to cardiovascular diseases, early identification of impaired kidney function and controlling disease progression plays an important role in managing the condition. Hence, AstraZeneca and upcoming players like Mitsubishi Tanabe and Boehringer Ingelheim should invest in both branded and unbranded support and improve multi-channel digital initiatives focusing on disease awareness, messaging on product differentiation, and disease management strategies. Strengthening digital presence in CKD will work towards fulfilling the unmet need and help patients achieve positive outcomes.”

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