John Campbell, Campbell Alliance

Nov 03, 2007
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

PHARMA CAN STAVE OFF THREATS. I'll give you two examples—one on the commercial side and one in R&D:

1) Companies need to be looking at scenarios around potential changes in the reimbursement environment. Specifically, they need to understand a range of scenarios and how they might impact their specific products. This needs to move from a discussion of policy scenarios to a fact-based analysis of potential financial impact.

2) Companies need to be stepping back and looking at their core clinical processes. There is obviously tremendous concern about drug safety and tremendous change at FDA. In my opinion, the best way to prepare for that is to have the rest of your clinical-development house in very good order so that when changes need to be made, the foundation is solid. Many companies have simply not resourced clinical development to deal with the challenges they are facing.

John Campbell
What's needed in almost all cases: more people, better technology, and better processes. In many cases: it's better decision making around the portfolio of products being developed.


Pharma companies need to understand the opportunities for their current products in much greater depth. A lot of products have untapped potential with their current indications, and a smaller number have untapped opportunities with new indications.

The second imperative is better launches. There is simply no parallel in terms of opportunity for a pharma company than launching products optimally. Sadly, many companies struggle with this activity and pay the price later with suboptimized results.

The vast majority of short-and long-term challenges the industry faces are well known:

  • Threats of pricing restrictions
  • Threats of an unstable regulatory environment
  • Threats of changes related to the protection of intellectual property

These are all ground-shaking changes for our industry to plan for. I feel strongly that we all need to address a fundamental issue challenging our industry: Too many people do not understand what we do, the risks inherent in the process, and how the medicines we are developing now will add value. Obviously, this is a daunting task, but we must all work together to do it.


The single most important thing for clients to do when working with any consultant is to be clear about the objectives, the deliverables, and the timeline. As for the consultant, think about the client relationship in terms of decades—not weeks, months, or years. To maintain long-term relationships is to always deliver on what is promised.

Specialized consulting firms offer a completely different value proposition than generalist firms. To focus exclusively on pharma and biotech can mean offering specialists in the all the major functional areas: brand management and marketing, business development and licensing, clinical development, managed markets, sales, and trade and distribution. In addition, specialized consultancies are able to offer experts that know therapeutic areas and specific markets inside out.

An analogy that a client offered me a few weeks ago: If you want Lasik surgery, you go to someone who does it all day long, someone with demonstrated long-term outcomes.


Organized like a pharmaceutical company, Campbell Alliance offers specialized practice teams that focus on critical pharmaceutical-and biotech-industry functions, including brand management, business development, clinical development, and managed markets sales. Clients include most of the top-20 pharmaceutical companies, as well as emerging and midsize firms.

John Campbell is founder, chairman, and CEO of Campbell Alliance. He can be reached at

Campbell Alliance
T: 919-844-7100

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