Not too long ago, the idea of a head to head trial as a method to differentiate would never have made it past a product’s first tactical planning session before being tossed in the bin. Many therapeutic areas weren’t crowded or competitive enough to warrant such a risky leap for greater market share, and too few examples of successful head to head trials existed to inspire its usage.
Now, the picture is different. In saturated, elbow-to-elbow markets full of products jostling for smaller and smaller slices of the market, pharma companies are eager for a maneuver that will grow their share not marginally, but significantly.
By directly comparing safety and efficacy, head to head trials serve as an opportunity to separate a product from the others attempting to drown it out, which will only become more and more important as over-saturated markets continue to crowd.
When an investigational medicine is directly compared to an existing standard of care, powerful information is released. And as mentioned, this intelligence can be doubly powerful in already saturated, highly competitive markets where marginal growth might not be enough to claim the market share needed for success. A prime example of such a market is the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) space.
The crowded RA field is particularly representative of larger marketplace trends. Gaping knowledge gaps persist in the relative efficacy and safety characterization of multiple RA drugs. Conventional meta-analytical methods are limited in their ability to compare relative effectiveness. This scenario makes RA a fertile ground for head to head trials, and is applicable to many other markets – meaning, head to head trials could start to be seen more and more in other similarly crowded therapeutic areas.