Lifecyle Management Planning For Yesterday

Oct 03, 2008
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Choose one: You're leading a big brand team with deep pockets and thousands of reps in the field. Or maybe you're at a mid-tier drugmaker with unique experience in a specific drug class and therapeutic area. Or you have a terrific new biologic that's working wonders for your patients. Question: What do you all have in common? Answer: drugs and a ticking clock.

Brands have a finite amount of shelf life before something comes along to upset the apple cart. If you haven't made the most of your particular asset when the next-generation drug launches —or generics suddenly appear, or the reimbursement paradigm changes—options disappear as quickly as market share.


Everyone loves the shortterm. In Phase III, at launch, in the rush to grab market share, and later as brands duke it out with emerging competitors, teams rightfully focus on near-term results. The challenge is keeping a firm grasp of the long-term picture. As next quarter turns into next week, it's easy to lose sight of strategies meant to carry a brand through its entire life. Plans fall by the wayside—or never get made at all—and teams face the prospect of managing a crisis with no clear strategy and few useful tools. This situation happens all the time for older drugs whose original brand leaders, long gone, didn't forge plans to extend product life when a few extra months could mean hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lifecycle management is not new. Companies have been involved in LCM activities for decades. Lacking, however, was any formal resource allocation or pipeline realignment associated with the function. Now that companies are no longer launching blockbuster after blockbuster, they must put in place a LCM plan for the long haul to concentrate on maximizing the value of every brand in their portfolio.


LCM isn't a magic bullet for late-life issues. It is, however, a toolbox for executives trying to foresee all the challenges their brands will invariably face. As pipelines get dryer, that toolbox is getting more and more formal. In a survey of large drug companies, half had taken steps to build formal LCM groups. Those companies are working to integrate lifecycle planning into every step of project development and brand management.

For most drugs, the time to start hatching long-term plans is yesterday—or the day before. Formal lifecycle planning reaches all the way back to preclinical development. Patent- filing strategies, clinical program planning, and formulation decisions will have direct impact on brands 15 to 20 years down the road. It requires dedication, discipline, and a willingness to look beyond tomorrow. No matter what situations they face now, marketing groups need to be thinking ahead—and doing it as soon as possible


As a drug moves through various lifecycle stages, LCM executives must constantly change their priorities. At each milestone, LCM teams need to focus on different tactics to pursue. Although a new stage in a product's life requires LCM teams to execute the task at hand, executives must always remember how each LCM activity fits into the big picture.

LCM priorities during early-stage development can change with each development phase. Once the drug launches, each new year brings patent expiration that much closer and, therefore, brand teams will need to focus on preparing for that milestone. Even after patents expire, companies still have options to maximize their drug's value.


For the most part, funding for LCM activities is tied to individual brands. In a survey, 86 percent of companies tied LCM budgets to individual brands while the remaining 14 percent funded LCM from other sources. It makes logical sense for LCM activities to be funded via brand budgets because the activities that are performed are intended to have a positive impact on a specific brand.

The remaining 14 percent of study participants, who do not tie LCM funds to brand budgets, provide LCM funding through marketing or R&D. While these companies are a minority, they nonetheless all have a system in place that provides funding for LCM-focused activities.

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