Susan Cypra, Archstone Consulting

Nov 02, 2007
By Pharmaceutical Executive


Susan Cypra
MANY COMPANIES ARE doing a good job evolving their strategies to take advantage of new technoligies and merging global healthcare models. However, some need revolutionary change to respond to the challenges brought by emerging customers and generic competition (especially follow-on biologics).

Most companies haven't faced up to the implications of potential change. Pharmaceutical companies need to design strategies for how their small-and large-molecule businesses will be successful in the context of greater generic competition.

An example of the kind of value a consultancy can deliver can be found in the complex area of product-launch services. I have identified a series of key considerations for pharmaceutical companies to consider when planning for a new product launch:

Pharmaceutical companies need to analyze a new drug's market potential early enough to drive development priorities and ultimately launch a successful product. While the people in R&D are focused largely on getting FDA approval, they may be developing a drug that has no competitive advantage in its target market. And while the standard safety, efficacy, and tolerability characteristics are studied, R&D may not be focused on structuring studies so that the appropriate data to support marketing claims and health-economic information is available at launch. The latter is critical to gaining preferred access for the product.

I often work with companies to bring together groups that are not used to working together or that want to work together in a new way: for example, providing Commercial Operations and R&D with a process for how to engage early in the development process so that appropriate analyses of the market, competitors, physicians, patients, etc. are taken into account.

COORDINATE ACTIVITIES

The brand team must coordinate launch activities across all groups involved. This means not only getting marketing and sales on the same page, but also ensuring manufacturing and supply chain have the information they need to ensure adequate supply at the right place at the right time. And it means working closely with partners and vendors so that the entire product messaging and positioning is consistent across marketing materials.

DEVELOP AND INSTITUTIONALIZE LEARNING

Pharmaceutical companies must institutionalize best practices to ensure their product launches are consistently successful. A client may launch a great product, but then the process for launch is not documented and the lessons learned are not captured. This is particularly true when a company has gone a few years between launches. If a good job of documenting the knowledge and materials from prior experiences hasn't been done, the company is faced with starting from scratch.

A consultant is able to develop a variety of best-practice tools and techniques, which can be used to jump-start launch activity. These then can be enlisted to provide a complete process for the team to follow or to complement the client's existing skills and launch experience. A war-game methodology can be put in place for before and after launches to help clients anticipate competitors' potential moves under different scenarios, understand the resulting market dynamic and key issues, and determine the best course of action considering both proactive competitor actions as well as counteractions.

While the above considerations are universal, it is also true that each product launch will be, in some ways, unique. I've found that it is necessary for the product launch to be flexible, leveraging proven techniques and best practices where appropriate. At the same time, it can be accommodating the unique needs of the product, the market, and the client.

INSIDER INFORMATION

Archstone Consulting focuses on strategic and operational business issues, with an appreciation of the requirements for successful implementation. Its focus areas include: strategy (including brand strategy, product launch, and alliance management), organizational effectiveness, operations, and CFO advisory services.

Susan Cypra is a principal in Archstone Consulting's life sciences practice; she specializes in sales & marketing strategy. She can be reached at

Archstone Consulting
http://www.archstoneconsulting.com/
T: 203-940-8200