March 25, 2020
COVID-19 Wreaking Havoc in Specialty Practices and the Vast Majority of Physicians Expect It to Get Worse in the Next Two Weeks, According to a New Report by Spherix Global Insights
Results from a survey of more than 300 dermatologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, neurologists, rheumatologists, and primary care physicians indicate a marked decrease in patient visits, growing concern over financial impact to practices, and worry over preparedness for a widespread local outbreak
EXTON, Pa., March 24, 2020 / PRNewswire / – Spherix Global Insights is an independent market intelligence firm that focuses on trend-watching in key specialty markets including autoimmune, renal, and CNS indications. On March 10th, in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Spherix surveyed 85 US nephrologists about the impact COVID-19 was having on their practices. On that day, 22% said the impact was high.
We followed the daily impact ratings among US nephrologists for the next five days and observed a shocking climb in the level of concern, such that by March 15th (just five days later), 58% were indicating a high impact on their practice. This prompted us to broaden the scope to our other focus areas and closely follow the evolution taking place among specialty physician and primary care practices.
The Special Report: Multi-Specialty Impact of COVID-19 is an ongoing series of weekly monitoring that evaluates the impact of COVID-19 on physicians and their practices – including, but not limited to, the utilization of telemedicine, at-risk patient groups, key concerns, support from industry, and future changes in prescribing patterns. The complete results from Wave 1, based on a survey of 308 practitioners conducted last Friday (March 20, 2020), were released yesterday. Notable findings include:
● 78% reported that the current impact on their practice was high; 97% also reported that the impact had increased in the past week.
○ Regardless of specialty, office visits had declined by more than 50% from the typical flow.
● Despite the high level of concern and a sizeable percentage of patients classified as “high risk,” testing among specialists was uncommon; across the entire sample (which included 51 PCPs), only 16% had ordered a test for any patients.
○ The leading barrier to testing was a lack of test kits available at the offices.
● Nephrologists had the greatest utilization of telemedicine, but overall, nearly two-thirds of the respondents had only implemented telemedicine in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
○ There is much confusion about reimbursement for these services as well as which patients are eligible and appropriate for telemedicine management. Most telemedicine encounters are taking place over the phone presently, but physicians reported a desire to migrate more of the interactions to video engagements.
● All specialist groups indicated that interventions – be it the start of dialysis (nephrologists), ordering an MRI (neurologists), or initiation of new drugs (notably immunosuppressants, biologic agents, and JAK inhibitors) – would be less likely in the current environment as a means of mitigating risk for patients.
○ Although less than 20% of the rheumatologists and gastroenterologists report that they have switched patients on infusion biologics to subcutaneous agents or oral agents to avoid in-facility exposure, there were multiple mentions in the survey about suspending administration for several weeks.
○ 60% of the surveyed neurologists agreed with the statement “The COVID-19 outbreak has caused me to rethink DMT selection for certain MS patients who are particularly at risk.” Injectable DMTs, including Teva’s Copaxone and the interferons, could make a previously unforeseeable comeback during this crisis.
● Feedback on the level of industry support was mixed, with 22% reporting a very supportive environment and a similar percentage reporting that the pharmaceutical industry has not been supportive.
○ Many feel that the pharmaceutical industry simply does not have a role in this crisis, and while most report being unaware of any specific company playing a key role on the national stage to combat COVID-19, Gilead and Roche/Genentech did receive multiple mentions as stand-out companies.
● Given our current measures, only 36% agree that the US will be able to “flatten the curve.”
● Only one in five feel that the federal government is doing a good job handling the COVID-19 situation.
● The concern is real – 83% of the respondents expect the COVID-19 crisis to worsen in the next two weeks. As one respondent shared, “(My greatest concern is) getting myself and my family sick and potentially even dying from this.”
It is bad news as well for companies with ongoing clinical trials. Physicians engaged with clinical trial research report a halting of enrollment, lack of needed follow-up, and diminished availability of clinical coordinators – all of which could slow the path to market for products in the pipeline. Coupled with a shift in FDA focus to accelerate treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 means that some of the most highly anticipated approvals (Bristol Myers Squibb’s ozanimod, FibroGen/AstraZeneca/Astellas’ roxadustat, Gilead/Galapagos’ filgotinib, and Tricida’s veverimer) could face delays.
And even more pity to companies with planned launches in the migraine space this spring, such as Allergan’s Ubrelvy, Biohaven’s Nurtec ODT, Eli Lilly’s Reyvow, and Lundbeck’s Vyepti, who won’t be able to rely on face-to-face promotion for some time.
The next wave of this study will field on Friday, March 27th and will further assess the impact to certain drug classes and steps the pharmaceutical industry is taking to support their patients and customers during this time of crisis.
About the Special Report
To help stakeholders gauge the degree of impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on physicians, Spherix will begin ongoing coverage included in Special Report: Multi-Specialty Impact of COVID-19. A subscription to the Special Report will include a weekly deliverable of data collected from the prior week, with coverage beginning March 20 and continuing through mid-April, at which point the situation will be reassessed. Specialty reports are available for dermatology, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, and primary care physicians.
About Spherix Global Insights
Spherix Global Insights is a hyper-focused market intelligence firm that leverages our own independent data and expertise to provide strategic guidance, so biopharma stakeholders make decisions with confidence. We specialize in select immunology, nephrology, and neurology markets.
All company, brand or product names in this document are trademarks of their respective holders.
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