When me-too drugs are hot on the tail of a first-in-class entrant, the goal is really to be the immovable object.
Our philosophy has always been to find — or create — the one problem that a brand can solve for healthcare professionals and hammer home the solution. Oftentimes reaching physicians at the gut level, that place where they experience an emotional reaction to your brand, can greatly influence prescribing decisions. From a practical standpoint, a sales force will need to be off and running right away. I think it is important that all parties are aligned from the start, including both internal and external stakeholders. Another important consideration is making sure that key influencers are well trained to effectively advocate for your brand. We know that the first few weeks post-launch are critical, and if a sales force can't cover the territory, closing the gaps by bringing a contract sales force on board might be something to consider. Promotional efforts will hit fast and hard during the first six months of launch, then the challenge shifts to keeping your noise level high when competitors start to roll in to town. There are so many other aspects to consider: Take pricing strategies, for example. Be careful to avoid a situation where you price yourself out of the market when those competitors appear. Another challenge will be educating the market about a new class of drug in a way that highlights the specific benefits of your brand so that you can completely own the class. Whether you are educating physicians, patients or payers, there is always a risk that your efforts may end up making it easier for emerging competitors to benefit.