Jan Heybroek, The Arcas Group

Nov 03, 2007
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Jan Heybroek
PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES are operating within a system that does not have direct purchasing as its main transactional platform (i.e., the one who makes the purchasing decision pays for the product). Therefore, it is imperative for pharmaceutical companies to directly and indirectly engage with all stakeholders and actively coordinate and manage these complicated relationships.


Enhancing the portfolio approach in commercial development is crucial now for pharma companies. The days of focusing solely on the commercial success of a few blockbuster drugs are over. Though this is a high-risk strategy that can reap high rewards, it also provides major threats. We suggest that, in addition to continuing the drive for blockbuster drugs, pharmaceutical companies supplement their portfolios of drugs in selected therapy areas with a number of drugs with smaller commercial potential (i.e., $100 to $250 million peak-year sales). This will strengthen the company's position in the therapy area, offering efficiencies of scale and multiple opportunities to increase the frequency and quality of communication with the targeted physician community.


Pharma companies should integrate the different commercialization plans that exist within pharmaceutical and biotech companies: clinical-development plans, market-development plans, publication plans, strategic-marketing plans, thought leader–development plans, promotional and medical-education plans, sales plans, etc. By synchronizing objectives, improving allocation of internal and external resources, coordinating timing, and better integrating plans, companies can grow their return on commercial investments and achieve stronger and more lasting market positions. For smaller companies, it also may lead to a reduction of the overall expense of bringing a drug to market and the creation of a stronger position as a potential licensing partner for big pharma.


Both the larger pharmaceutical companies and the smaller pharmaceutical and biotech companies will benefit from stronger and more leveraged relationships with medical thought leaders. The reasons why and the approaches to achieving this differ for each company, and may differ among groups within the same company. An important challenge for larger pharmaceutical companies is the coordination and integration of all the plans and activities involving thought leaders. From my experience, in the most successful situations, different groups within one company will talk with one another and coordinate calendars and scheduled meetings. However, the objectives of each group's activities remain uncoordinated and the valuable knowledge and input of the thought leaders is insufficiently shared internally, thereby reducing the added value delivered to the organization.

Medical thought leaders can bring a lot to pharma's table. Their daily interaction with patients, their daily struggle to determine the best patient care, their experience with analytical processes and the application of science to the art of medicine all provide valuable insights to companies at different stages of commercialization. But pharma companies often don't have a sufficiently open and sincere dialogue with the thought leader community. Companies have commercial interests to protect. Thought leaders understand this. However, pursuing an open discussion on equal footing will enhance the insight provided by thought leaders and ultimately strengthen the relationship.


The Arcas Group is improves the connectivity between medical thought leaders, physicians, and commercially focused organizations. Providing strategic consulting and management services for clients designed to help grow their position in the healthcare market through a number of different strategic approaches.

Jan Heybroek is president of the Arcas Group. He can be reached at

Arcas Group
T: 404-496-4136

lorem ipsum