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Glossary of terms.

We demystify the acronyms and terminology used in pharmaceutical market research.


ACA (Adaptive Conjoint Analysis)
A statistical technique which measures the relative importance of particular characteristics of a product or service and can be tailored to each respondent taking part in the market research.

ACA (Affordable Care Act / “Obamacare”)
A law requiring all individuals in the US to have health insurance and to standardize some insurance policies across different private insurance companies.

Adverse event
A side effect from a medication. This includes any untoward medical occurrence in a patient, or clinical trial participant receiving a medicine, which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with this treatment. Adverse events can therefore be any unfavourable and unintended sign, symptom, or disease temporally associated with the use of a medicine, whether or not considered related to the medicine.

An existing product which is seen to be comparable to one still in development. Analog data is used to predict likely future performance.

An animated output, which tells the story of the key insights discovered from the market research.

Artificial intelligence / machine learning (AI)
The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

In market research, often used as a shorthand way to describe a study involving a group of Asian nations. It does not have to be the countries in the actual Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

A molecule or compound identified during research and development as offering potential benefits in the treatment of a disease.

ATU (Awareness, trial and usage study)
A quantitative survey to measure HCPs awareness, trial, and product usage for a product category and/or brand.


Behavioural science / economics
The study of the influence of psychological and behavioural factors on human decision-making. This includes social, cognitive, contextual and emotional variables. Behavioural economics tries to understand the emotional or inherent biases that lead people to make what appear to be irrational and sub-optimal decisions from an economic perspective.

BI (Budget Impact)
The cost to the healthcare system of a given course of action (such as adding a new drug to formulary) over a time frame aligned to its budgeting cycle.

Biologic agent
A product that is produced from living organisms or contains components of living organisms. Biologics include recombinant proteins, tissues, genes, allergens, cells, blood components, blood and vaccines. In healthcare, biologic agents are sometimes thought of as the branded products that a company has under patent protection and are distinguished from follow-on biosimilar products.

A measurable indicator of the severity or presence of some disease state or some other physiological state of an organism. For example, the presence of a specific mutation – which can be tested for – might cause a patient to be more or less likely to respond to a specific therapy.

In healthcare, biosimilars are products that are designed to copy brand name biologic products that are no longer covered by a patent in much the same way that generic medications are made to copy small molecule medications that are no longer under patent.

Blockbuster drug
A drug that generates annual sales of at least $1 billion for the company that sells it.

BNF (British National Formulary)
A UK pharmaceutical reference book for HCPs containing information and advice on prescribing and pharmacology with details on medicines available on the NHS.

Brand mapping
A qualitative projective technique which asks respondents to position competitor brands based on defined characteristics such as efficacy, ease of use, cost, etc.

Brand personalities
A qualitative technique which asks respondents to imagine the brand as a person or an animal and then describe how they might look, act, behave, speak, or interact with others, for example.

The large emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Bubble diagrams
A qualitative technique which uses cartoons with speech bubbles and asks respondents to say what each character is saying to the other in a specified scenario.


CBC (Choice-Based-Conjoint)
A type of trade-off analysis where respondents are asked to choose between different characteristics of products in order to determine the appeal of each particular characteristic.

CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)
A US Federal agency that conducts and supports health promotion, prevention and preparedness activities, with the goal of improving overall public health.

Central and Eastern Europe.

Central America and Caribbean.

CHAID analysis (Chi-Squared Automatic Interaction Detection)
A statistical technique which uses rules to segment respondents into identified groups using a series of questions or to detect interrelationships between different questions.

CL (Central Location)
This refers to the venue used to host market research focus groups, face-to-face or in-depth interviews.

Clinical trial
A biomedical or behavioural research study amongst a sample of humans into a new therapy, vaccine or new method of using known treatments to determine the safety and efficacy of a drug before it reaches the public.

Cluster analysis
A way of segmenting respondents into groups based on their shared characteristics.

The process of turning responses into a series of numerical forms ready for analysis.

The process of bringing new products or services to market. The broader act of commercialisation entails production, distribution, marketing, sales, customer support and other key functions critical to achieving the commercial success of the new product or service.

Conjoint analysis
A statistical technique that provides a quantitative measure of the relative importance of one product or service attribute over another.

Continuous or longitudinal research
Research which is conducted with the same group of respondents over time to evaluate changes in behaviour.


Data visualisation
The practice of converting data from raw figures into a graphical representation such as graphs, maps, charts and complex dashboards.

Demand assessment
To understand how much consumer demand exists for a product or service.

Discriminant analysis
A statistical technique which uses the responses to a set of questions to predict group membership of a segment. The output can be used to classify future respondents into the same groups using their responses to the same set of questions (typing tool).


Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The level of response achievable from a pharmaceutical drug in research settings, and the capacity for sufficient therapeutic effect or beneficial change in clinical settings.

EHR (Electronic Health Record)
The systematic digital collection of historical patient case data, interoperable with other systems such as laboratory data, imaging results and demographics.

EMA (European Medicines Agency)
The regulatory agency responsible for the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products in Europe. Manufacturers can submit a single application to obtain a centralized marketing authorization (MA) valid in all European Union and all European Economic Area-European Free Trade Association states.

Emerging markets
Countries that are not highly developed economically but have some characteristics of wealthy countries and reasonable future economic prospects.

ERP / IRP (External Reference Pricing / International Reference Pricing)
The widely adopted practice of using other countries’ prices as a benchmark for decisions within a national price control. A country using this method will refer to a ‘reference basket’ of countries and employ different algorithms to determine the reference price for a given product.

The form of systematic market research, whereby researchers observe participants using a product or service in their own environment. This method can provide beneficial insights into how consumers use a product or service and a platform to identify gaps in the market, to make way for breakthrough revolutions. For example, watching how a diabetic patient uses a medical device to measure their glucose levels at home.


F2F (Face-to-face)
Research which involves an in-depth interview with a moderator and a respondent in a one-to-one meeting or focus group.

Factor analysis
A statistical technique to examine the similarities between different characteristics in order to identify a more concise summary of the themes. For example, if a product has been evaluated on over 20 attributes, but half of those attributes perform similarly then they can be grouped or redacted during analysis.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
A federal regulatory agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) responsible for protecting and promoting public healthcare through the control and supervision of pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs, biopharmaceuticals, nutritionals, vaccines and medical devices, as well as food safety, tobacco, cosmetics, animal food and veterinary products.

FDC (Fixed Dose Combination)
Two different products combined into a single pill, which helps reduce pill burden.

Normally a quantitative study designed to estimate the use of a potential new product, but can be done in a qualitative fashion or to assess the impact of new data on an existing product.


A pricing technique used to understand the price elasticity of a product or group of products. Intention to buy is measured at different price points to determine estimated take-up and establish the optimal price.

GANTT chart
A tool used to plot the key activities, timescales and resources required to manage a market research project.

Gene therapy
An experimental technique that uses genes to treat or prevent disease.

A term referring to the chemical makeup of a drug rather than to the advertised brand name under which the drug may be sold.

The branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution and mapping of genomes.


Healthcare professionals.

HEOR (Health Economics and Outcomes Research)
A discipline used to complement traditional clinical development information (ie, efficacy, safety, quality) to guide decision makers regarding patient access to specific drugs and services.

HTA (Health Technology Assessment)
An evidence-based process intended to support healthcare decision making by assessing properties and effects of health technologies in comparison with a current standard.


IDIs (In-depth interviews)
Qualitative research technique that involves conducting individual interviews to explore respondents’ perspectives on a particular idea, programme, or situation.

A type of therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection and other diseases.

Innovator drug
The product that was first authorised worldwide for marketing, normally as a patented product, on the basis of the documentation of its efficacy, safety and quality, according to requirements at the time of authorisation.


Juster scale
A verbal probability scale designed to estimate future behaviour.


Key driver analysis
This technique evaluates the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables and is used to determine the relationship and strength of each variable against the overall. So for example brand equity could be the independent variable and features like reputation, service, quality of product, etc, could be the dependent variables of brand equity.

KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders)
A consultant or acknowledged expert whose early and enthusiastic endorsement of a new treatment or treatment protocol is sought because they are respected and influential in that market. Statistical method for identifying unmeasured class membership among subjects using categorical and/or continuous observed variables.


LAC (Latent Class Analysis)
Statistical method for identifying unmeasured class membership among subjects using categorical and/or continuous observed variables.

Large molecules (or macromolecules) vs. small molecules
Large molecules are classified as proteins having a therapeutic effect and are usually manufactured by biological systems. In contrast to small molecule drugs, most large molecule drugs are complex and composed of more than 1,300 amino acids and are similar or identical to versions of human proteins. Small molecules are chemical entities that are normally small enough and simple enough to be made by chemical synthesis.

Latin America.

Leading question
A badly phrased question which is deemed to bias respondents towards a particular answer.

Line extension
When an organisation introduces a new product that is a new version or an enhancement of an existing product. In pharmaceuticals, this can include such features as varying dosages, delivery mechanisms, indications etc.

Linear regression
A statistical technique used to determine the relative importance of different drivers in order to re-create a dependent variable. For example, the effect of reputation on overall brand equity.

LoE (Loss of Exclusivity)
When an originator drug faces generic competition in the market after patent expiry.


mAbs (Monoclonal Antibodies)
An important tool in medicine, mAbs are antibodies made by identical immune cells that are all clones of a unique parent cell. mAb medicines are used in the treatment of immune diseases.

Involves survey takers indicating the ‘Best’ and the ‘Worst’ options out of a given set. Implemented within an appropriate experimental design we can obtain a relative ranking for each option.

MCO (Managed Care Organisation)
Contracts with a group or panel of healthcare providers to provide services to patients who are members of their managed care plan at a negotiated reduced rate. HMOs and PPOs are types of MCO.

Joint Federal and State programme that helps with medical costs for eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, seniors and disabilities.

Medical device
An article, instrument, apparatus or machine that is used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease, or for detecting, measuring, restoring, correcting or modifying the structure or function of the body for some health purpose.

Middle East, North Africa.

MROC (Moderated Research Online Community)
An online methodology for gathering real-time qualitative market research insights amongst a group of respondents about a particular disease area over time. The community is usually closed and respondents can involve patients’, physicians or other healthcare stakeholders.



A discipline that involves applications of nanoparticles currently under development, as well as longer-range research involving the use of manufactured nano-robots to make repairs at the cellular level (sometimes referred to as nanomedicine).

NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence)
A Non-Departmental Public Body in the UK, which provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.

NITAGs (National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups)
Expert committees responsible for developing recommendations that are used by policy-makers to make evidence-based decisions on immunization-related policies and programmes, such as the inclusion of a new vaccine in the national immunization program (NIP). Examples include ACIP in the US, JCVI in the UK, STIKO in Germany and CTV in France.

NLP (Natural Language Processing)
A subfield of linguistics, computer science, information engineering and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages, in particular how to programme computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data.

NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming)
Bringing about changes in perception, responsible communication and developing choices of responses or communication in a given situation.

Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

NPP (Named Patient Programmes)
Provide pre-approved access to drugs that are not commercially available in a country (but are approved in another country) in response to specific individual requests by physicians on a named patient basis.


Observational techniques
Qualitative techniques used to observe a subject’s behaviour without introducing any moderator bias. Researchers utilising the observational method can exert varying amounts of control over the environment in which the observation takes place.

OOP (Out of Pocket)
Costs directly paid by patients that are not covered by insurers or other healthcare payers.

Orphan drug
A medicine with one or more indications approved to treat diseases that are so rare that they would not be profitable to develop under usual marketing conditions. Drugs granted orphan drug status or orphan designation have favourable exclusivity terms and other financial incentives in many countries.

OTC (Over the Counter)
Medicines sold directly to consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional or a consultation with a pharmacist. OTC drugs are less strictly regulated than prescription only drugs as they have been proven to be reasonably safe and well tolerated over time and they have limited potential for abuse.


Market Research Panels are made up of a group of people who meet certain demographic criteria. Respondents who sign up to a Market Research Panel are often willing to participate in multiple surveys over a long period of time, they may be asked to do a range of tasks from keeping a diary, answering questions online or attending focus groups or interviews.

Taken into the body or administered in a manner other than through the digestive tract, as by intravenous or intramuscular injection.

A protection for a branded prescription drug or other medical preparation to ensure it can only be manufactured, marketed and sold by the originator company for a specified number of years (which varies by country and type of drug.)

Healthcare decision-makers, policy-makers and budget-holders. Payers may be national, regional or local, public or private in scope. In some markets, patients themselves may be the payers.

PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Manager)
Third party organisations responsible for negotiation of drug prices, formulary management and administration of Managed Care Organisations.

A product or range of products in research and development which have the expectation of being launched and sold by a biotechnology or pharmaceutical firm.

A composition of pharmaceutical company products at various stages of the product lifecycle, which may include several categories or types of product across one or more therapy areas.

PRO (Patient Reported Outcomes)
A health outcome, resulting from therapy or treatment, which is reported by the patient. In market research or clinical research, PROs can be collected by asking patients to fill in questionnaires, or by interviewing patients. PROs can be used to assess improvements in symptoms experienced by the patient, adverse events, quality of life and other health perceptions.

Product lifecycle
A model showing the progress of a product as it goes through four prescribed stages: introduction, growth, maturity and decline.

Projective technique
A technique used in an interview to try and get beyond rational thoughts and get at the emotional or subconscious reasons why a person responds the way they do. Brand personality is an example of a projective technique.

PSP (Patient Support Programme)
A program delivered by the manufacturer of a drug to support patients and help them take their medications as prescribed, understand their condition and manage their disease, or provide a service or financial assistance.

PQC (Product Quality Complaint)
A problem with a medicinal product not known to cause a side effect. For example, the product label is missing or a needle for a self-injected medication is bent or broken when the package is opened.

PV (Pharmacovigilance)
The science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other drug-related problem.


QoL (Quality of Life)
A broad-ranging concept relating to an individual’s perception of their position in life, in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. QoL is affected by a person’s physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships and relationship to their environment.

A market research method rooted in psychology and social anthropology, for gathering in-depth, open information about a respondent’s attitudes, perceptions and behaviour, in order to generate insights about a particular issue or topic. It is often used as a pre-cursor to a quantitative study as a means of constructing a hypothesis for testing. Qualitative research can be conducted singularly, in pairs or groups, either face-to-face, via diaries, telephone or online. It can be carried out via observation or using a moderator to structure the interview.

A market research method using a larger sample size, normally with the goal of answering a market research question in a way that has statistical power. It is most often done with internet-based survey research.


Rare disease
A disease affecting a very small proportion of the population. Definitions vary, but typical cut-offs are less than 200,000 people in the US and less than 5 per 10,000 people in the EU.

Reference price
A method of healthcare cost control in which the cost of all items in a class of roughly equivalent products or services is reimbursed at a fixed amount. Patients or providers who seek care that is more expensive than the reference price pay additional fees. Those who agree to use standard services are reimbursed in full for the products or services they receive.

RWE (Real World Evidence)
How a drug performs or is used in real clinical settings. Sources of Real World Data may include patient registries, electronic health records (EHRs), claims data or observational cohort studies. RWE is becoming increasingly important to demonstrate the value of medicines to payers, as it shows effectiveness in the population as opposed to efficacy from Randomized Clinical Trials (RCT), in which there can be uncertainty regarding the generalizability and transferability of the results of patients included in the trial to the broader patient population.


A representative group of respondents taken from a larger population for undertaking market research.

The process of dividing potential markets or consumers into specific groups for targeted marketing, usually because of shared needs or interests.

SoC (Standard of Care)
Best practice treatment that experts agree is appropriate, accepted and widely used. SoC may vary between countries and regions.

Social media listening
The process of identifying and analysing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on the Internet.

Sentiment analysis
The process of computationally identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text (usually online or on social media), in order to determine whether the writer’s attitude towards a particular topic, product, etc. is positive, negative, or neutral.

Specialty pharmaceuticals
Drugs for the treatment of complex, chronic, rare and difficult-to-manage conditions, or requiring special administration and handling. Often high-cost prescription drugs.

Specialty pharmacy
Retail or online distribution channels designed to handle specialty pharmaceuticals. Examples include CVS Caremark and Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy.

SWOT analysis
A model used by businesses, brands or departments to identify internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, in order to evaluate the current market environment.


TDIs (Telephone Depth Interviews)
Interviews where participants are asked survey questions over the telephone.

Targeted therapy
A form of cancer treatment which uses drugs to identify and attack cancerous cells and is one of the major modalities of medical treatment for cancer.

Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency (TURF analysis)
A type of statistical analysis used for providing estimates of media or market potential and devising optimal communication and placement strategies given limited resources.

TPP (Target Product Profile)
A document outlining the characteristics of a pharmaceutical product in development, including its mode of action, target indication, clinical efficacy, safety and other health outcomes data.


Also known as Population. Everybody (or thing) of a defined type, which could possibly be surveyed. Often the number of respondents in a defined geographical area or market.

User/ respondent generated content
Any form of content, such as images, videos, text and audio, that have been posted by users on online platforms such as social media.

UX testing
A method used to evaluate how easy a website, app or other digital media is to use and how positive the experience is. The tests take place with real users to measure how ‘usable’ or ‘intuitive’ a website is and how easy it is for users to reach their goals.


The extent to which a concept, conclusion or measurement is well-founded and likely corresponds accurately to the real world.

Viewing facility
A dedicated room in which researchers can sit and observe focus groups and in-depth interviews through a one-way mirror.

Virtual reality / augmented reality
Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Virtual reality (VR) constitutes a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world and puts the users into a virtual one.


A method used to adjust the data results of a study in order to overcome bias and to bring them more in line with what is known about a population.

Word association tests
A method of testing respondents’ opinions and perceptions by giving them a word or phrase and requesting that they respond with the first word that comes in to their head when they hear or see it.

Word cloud
A method for visually presenting text data. They are popular for text analysis because they make it easy to spot word frequencies. The more frequent the word is used, the larger and bolder it is displayed.

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