The Intelligence Diaries - Pharmaceutical Executive

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The Intelligence Diaries
Here's your study guide to what the industry once knew—and lost.


Pharmaceutical Executive


For example, a quick search on obesity on http://Monster.com/ resulted in 160 postings. The companies listed included a wide range of traditional firms, but there were also a number of biotech startups, a medical device company, and a host of medical and wellness centers conducting research.

Obesity is a relatively new market, so rivals may pop up anywhere. Perhaps a new device or a lifestyle treatment will prove more economically effective than a pill. If so, the wellness approach, or a homeopathic or herbal remedy, may win over the pharmaceutical drug solution.

Searching job-posting sites is one fresh way to research the healthcare landscape. But consider these additional alternatives that offer a new way of watching for future opportunities or threats.

  • Ask yourself: What genetic population is a potential competitor targeting? Watch this marker, which may lead to a drug-diagnostic launch. If a rival can offer both the drug and a diagnostic as a package, that may give it a leg up in narrow formulary lists.
  • Track blogs and get onto Listservs Patient-advocacy groups have learned a lot from Gleevec. We have witnessed patient groups shaping clinical trials in many therapeutic areas and changing the way biotechs position their early-stage drugs.
  • Pay attention to investor conferences The cardinal rule of intelligence: Wherever money is exchanged, so is information. It's not just about scientific conferences any more. "I am seeing more of a convergence among the biotech, pharma, and the investment community than ever before," says the former Pink Sheet editor Gottlieb. "Some of the investor conferences have become big forums for discussions of pharmaceutical business development and competitive activity."
  • Understand the economics Watch the health economics, and remember that whoever wins the race to the formulary wins the game. The overall clinical and financial effectiveness of a drug or a treatment may overshadow the science.

Blogs and Chat Rooms: Test the Noise

I have met too many executives who dismiss blogs and chat rooms, such as http://cafepharma.com/, as wastes of time. Unsubstantiated. Bombastic. Self-important. Dismiss it you might, but it is all part of the transparency—the not-yet-vetted insights—that could reveal a rival's future moves.

For example, in between the bragging rites and testosterone flowing through Cafepharma diatribes, we learnt how salespeople think about the products they sell or how they view competitive positioning. These blogs and discussion boards may not reveal strategic secrets, but they will uncover a competitive dynamic. Think of discussion forums as another channel on your television set, another window on the world in which you compete.

Below are a few noteworthy blogs worth considering.

DrugWonks "Debating today's drug policies" is the motto of this blog, which comes from the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and is championed by Peter Pitts, ex-FDA communications officer. It analyzes FDA issues, Medicare, and healthcare spending, among other topics.

In the Pipeline In the Pipeline blogs about R&D. Written by a drug-discovery pro with his PhD in organic chemistry, entries are indexed into categories such as Life in the Drug Labs.

Patent Baristas This clever blog, written by two patent attorneys, tracks and comments on intellectual property issues and the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. A survey of recent articles included discussions on generics, patent infringement, FDA warning letters, and IP legislation.

Pharma's Cutting Edge Written by a life sciences consultant, this blog considers such issues as clinical research, pharma sales and marketing, drug safety, and regulatory issues.


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