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    In the complex world of pharmaceuticals, where drug discovery, development, and marketing involve staggering investments and high-stakes decisions, one question looms large: should pharma companies care about new-to-brand patients? Answering this question could determine whether pharma companies succeed or fail during their market exclusivity phase.

    Traditionally, the pharma industry has relied on metrics like new prescriptions (NRx) and total prescriptions (TRx) to evaluate their sales performance. However, as we delve deeper into the intricacies of drug adoption and healthcare physician (HCP) relationships, it becomes clear that these metrics fall short of capturing the complete picture:

    • NRx often fails to distinguish between new patients and existing ones continuing therapy.  
    • TRx combines new and renewed prescriptions, obscuring the growth driven by new patients added by HCPs.

    Analyzing data about new users of a brand, also called new-to-brand patients, gives pharma companies a significant advantage in decision-making and overall drug performance. In this context, New-to-brand prescription (NBRx) offers a comprehensive look at the influx of new patients adopting a specific drug. Its significance lies in its ability to differentiate and quantify the contribution of new patients to a drug’s success, making it a vital metric in the fiercely competitive world of pharmaceuticals. Axtria has been working with life sciences companies for over a decade and has found that companies segmenting HCPs based only on TRx may lose access to high-performing NBRx writers that can shift to competitor’s products.

    Drug discovery, development, launch, and marketing are resource-consuming strategic activities that require pharma companies to spend billions of dollars. When a drug receives approval and enters the market exclusivity phase, the pharma company aims to:

    • Recover all of its investments in the current medication,
    • Raise enough money for future drug discovery, and
    • Compensate for any losses on failed drugs.
    Patient adoption of the new drug is essential for growth and improved profit margins during this phase. Thus, the new patient added, or new-to-brand-prescription (NBRx) is a better and more helpful indicator.


    For a pharma company, the most important decisions revolve around new revenue generation during their market exclusivity phase. For this, they usually worry about the following:

    1. Acquiring new patients: Out of the total number of patients who need treatment, how many can they persuade to test their drug? These patients could be freshly diagnosed and beginning a new therapy, treatment-naive, or dissatisfied with their existing treatment. Whether switching to another product or adding a new medication for greater efficacy, these patients need something different.    Obtaining these new patients through several promotional channels, such as face-to-face, print, and social media, comes at a hefty expense.
    2. New HCPs to prescribe the drugs: The pharma company is also concerned about acquiring new HCPs who prescribe their medications, adding patients to the company’s brand. Again, due to the high expense of marketing and promotion through multiple channels, getting HCPs to accept a brand may be too cost-prohibitive for pharma companies.

    Finding new clients, either patients or HCPs, is never easy for a company because of the high costs involved. Both NRx and TRx lag in capturing new patient acquisitions or new healthcare professionals. Relying exclusively on these traditional categories leads to delayed decisions and subpar drug performance.

    Including NBRx data offers various benefits, such as the following:

    1. Measuring an HCP’s business potential: In a market where brand loyalty is high, especially in chronic conditions, NBRx is a crucial indicator for measuring the newest business generated by an HCP. When an HCP prescribes a new medication for the first time, and the patient sees some benefit after starting the drug, that patient will keep taking it and add to the TRx volume.
    2. Targeting new HCPs for patient acquisition: NBRx is valuable for tracking sales reps’ targeting of new HCPs for patient acquisition. Monitoring reps’ efforts to approach new HCPs, which they can convert into prescription writers for a desired drug, is critical. When such conversion attempts are unsuccessful, it is essential to understand the reasons for failure so pharma companies can assess and enhance their marketing and promotion efforts.
    3. Optimizing sales reps’ field efforts: Sales rep activity is one of the best strategies for drug promotion. Targeting new HCPs efficiently uses sales reps’ time since it allows penetration deeper into the target market.  Otherwise, it would be wasted on identifying HCPs who will continue prescribing the current drug despite any interactions with the sales rep.
    4. Identifying HCPs for targeted promotions: The usage of NBRx can also result in HCP selections for drug promotions that are more targeted. Segmenting HCPs based on only TRx—rather than TRx and NBRx—drops HCPs writing low volumes and unsegmented HCPs who could become revenue generators in the future. Axtria’s extensive experience working on NBRx projects has revealed that high-performing HCPs who write NBRx scripts    (decile six and above) may get lost when segmenting them only by TRx scripts.

    It should be noted that NBRx data also has challenges. Getting reliable data can be difficult, especially when data needs to be aggregated before incentive plan use.1 Pharma companies can reach their desired long-term profit margins by combining NBRx with data from other sources.

    NBRx data can be a crucial metric for generating new revenue, enabling a pharma company to stay one step ahead of the competition. Seeing the new-to-brand numbers can also help assess the impact of the company’s most effective marketing campaigns and sales rep promotions. Numerous pharma firms have already realized the advantages of integrating NBRx and TRx in their incentive compensation schemes, allowing their representatives to focus on recruiting new HCPs.

    In the ever-evolving landscape of pharmaceuticals, the value of NBRx data cannot be overstated. This data has emerged as the compass that guides pharma companies toward success in their quest for new patients and healthcare providers. By offering a deeper understanding of patient adoption, HCP relationships, and the impact of marketing efforts, NBRx data empowers companies to make informed, strategic decisions that can shape their future. As pharma firms strive to recover their investments, raise funds for future drug discovery, and secure their position in the market, NBRx data has become an indispensable tool. Its ability to differentiate and quantify the influx of new patients and HCPs is critical to unlocking revenue potential and staying ahead of the curve.  As the pharma industry advances, embracing NBRx data isn’t just an option; it’s necessary for those seeking to thrive in this challenging arena. So, here’s to the future, where NBRx data will continue to drive innovation, growth, and success in the pharmaceutical world.


    1. Axtria Inc. Is NBRx Data The Right Choice For Your IC Pay Plan? April 15, 2021. Accessed December 1, 2023. https://insights.axtria.com/blog/is-nbrx-data-the-right-choice-for-your-ic-plan

    Minal Kapoor
    Written By:

    Minal Kapoor
    Minal Kapoor is a Manager, Commerical Excellence at Axtria. She has over 12 years of experience in the life sciences industry. At Axtria, Minal has contributed to IC Implementation and delivery for Pharma clients spread across geographies. Minal is a graduate in Economics with a master's degree in Business Economics.