Stan Bernard, Bernard Associates

Nov 03, 2007
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Stan Bernard
BEWARE THE STAKEHOLDERS Today's biggest threats to pharmaceutical companies come from their own stakeholders: consumers, payers, regulators, politicians, governments, the media, and others. Companies often fail to expect these threats and must react to them with little time and preparation.

There are numerous current examples of such threats, from unexpected clinical data to damaging media coverage. I recommend that pharmaceutical companies conduct business simulations to help prepare, preempt, and plan for potential stakeholder threats. Toward this objective, I incorporate key corporate or brand stakeholders when I conduct "competitive simulations," a new, improved version of war games.


Pharmacogenomics is at the top of my pharma opportunity list. Pharmacogenomics, an emerging technology that helps determine how people respond to drugs based on their genes, has the potential to address three of the industry's biggest challenges—product efficacy, safety, and value. While many industry researchers support the technology, some pharmaceutical business executives and marketers are reluctant to even consider it; they fear that pharmacogenomics will destroy the blockbuster model and fragment markets. This is a myth. The reality? Pharmacogenomics has the potential either to reduce or increase market size and shares, depending on various factors specific to the individual product at a specific time. Pharmaceutical executives should embrace this technology to provide patients with greater clinical and economic benefits and to gain a competitive marketing edge.


It helps to understand and leverage commercial innovation, and to encourage clients to think of creative ways to address business opportunities and challenges. For example, it is important to work with clients to develop different ways to conduct standard initiatives, such as strategic, marketing, or tactical planning, and to develop novel approaches to areas like business development.

It is also important to help clients better understand their stakeholders, who are increasingly influential in the adoption and use of products. Unlike most pharmaceutical professionals, I have worked for or with nearly every pharmaceutical stakeholder segment, including providers, managed care companies and other payers, employers, government organizations, professional societies, the media, patient-advocacy groups, and distributors. The experience helps me help clients understand and anticipate how stakeholders may react to their products, plans, and programs.


The greatest challenge—and opportunity—the industry will soon face is adopting and leveraging new technologies, such as genomics and nanotechnologies. Emerging technologies may dramatically change how we discover, design, and deliver medications. I foresee a huge opportunity for companies that can leverage combinations of technologies to develop "hybrid products": pharmaceutical products combined with medical devices, delivery mechanisms, or diagnostic tests. Pharmaceutical companies need to convene multidisciplinary project teams to analyze and develop commercial strategies and plans for these and other new technologies.


The most important thing a client can do with any consulting firm is to seek the right fit between the client's objectives, needs, and culture and the firm's capabilities and culture. If clients first determine their particular consulting requirements to identify the right match, then they will be much more likely to maximize the value of their consulting partnerships.


Based in Far Hills, NJ, Bernard Associates, LLC, is a pharmaceutical industry management consulting firm offering strategic planning, marketing, competitive simulations, competitive planning, and business development services. Bernard Associates has consulted for eight of the top-10 pharmaceutical companies and for over 50 other companies. Stan Bernard is president of Bernard Associates. He can be reached at

Bernard Associates, LLC
T: 908-234-2704

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