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Insights

ASTELLAS PHARMA CHINA

Situation

As one of the largest manufacturers of prescription drugs in the world, Japan-based Astellas Pharma China relies heavily on input from doctors to help the patients it serves. The end result is better care for patients who are afflicted with illnesses that range from AIDS to osteoporosis to heart failure to migraine headaches to asthma.

Astellas’ China office uses the data min-ing and text mining technology of IBM SPSS Modeler to help the organisation analyse important information it col -lects, and then create effective programs that best address physician and patient needs.

Challenge

Like any other profession, China’s medical industry is comprised of a vast array of beliefs and opinions. The chal -lenge for Astellas is to get a firm grasp on what the doctors are saying out in the field and then pass those analyses on to the team so it can create effective marketing campaigns for the drugs As-tellas manufactures. Not an easy task, considering the wide-ranging target audience.

On one end of the spectrum are the “pioneer” doctors, the physicians who are very open to new insights and re-search results, and fairly quickly turn scientific findings into practice. At the other end of the scale are the “conserva-tive personality” doctors, the physicians who want to do everything by the book, spend a lot of time researching treat -ment options, and base their opinions on the thorough study of specialist arti-cles or exchanges with colleagues.

To be successful, Astellas has to find the right way of approaching all these types of doctors. To achieve an identification of these groups, Astellas would need to use information from various sources, including internal data and data from external providers.

Solution

Astellas’ market data department now utilises SPSS’ text mining and quantita-tive analyses to get a better understand-ing of the data collected from surveys conducted at various communications seminars, and then provides that valu -able information to Astellas’ marketing team. Some of the areas measured, for example, include the number of years a doctor has been established, the number of patients a doctor serves, and addi -tional qualifications. SPSS’ functionality allows Astellas to gain further insight into the data with regard to their signifi -cance and correlation with other charac-teristics.

Astellas also uses IBM SPSS Modeler for profiling. The software allocates doctors to the typologies described above. To track marketing actions, Astellas’ mar -ket research department uses SPSS to segment doctors based on measures introduced by the marketing depart -ment. This, in turn, provides insight into which action catalog best character -ises the relevant target groups.

Results

To Astellas’ market researchers IBM SPSS Modeler’s functionality and user friendliness are two characteristics that particularly stand out. “I don’t need to remember any orders or commands, as is the case for other programs; on the contrary, everything can be found by means of the transparent menu struc-tures,” said one of the market research -ers involved in the project.

Astellas works with a number of market research agencies, which use the daily “diary” entries of doctors on the panel to learn which pharmaceutical represen -tatives have visited them, what product communications were conveyed, and whether in the future they will include these products in the range of drugs they prescribe. 

Thanks to data mining, Astellas’ now knows which properties of and informa-tion about our drugs are particularly well understood in conversations with the doctors, and in which instances the terms used for its marketing campaigns still need to be refined.