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This article shares practical advice, best practices, and real-world examples of how to hire talent for a successful commercial launch.
Commercialization: Timing the Talent Ramp
Launching a new drug is a pinnacle moment for any pharmaceutical company. In the US, it takes an average of 12 years[i] and $800 million dollars[ii] for a drug to make it into the hands of patients, so the importance of getting the launch right cannot be overstated, especially because organizations only have one shot to make a lasting impression.
Having the right talent in place to manage the commercialization process is essential. With deadlines constantly shifting and the need to make smart investment decisions, it’s difficult to know when to hire to ensure you’ve got the right people in place at the right time.
In this article, we’ll share practical advice, best practices, and real-world examples of how to hire talent for a successful commercial launch.
A hiring timeline for commercialization
The most ideal timing for hiring to begin for commercialization is 18-24 months from the PDUFA (Prescription Drug User Fee Act) date. Working backwards from that date, a successful hiring timeline looks something like this:
The entire hiring process normally takes approximately two years, but we’ve seen some companies ramp up in a shorter timeline. If your timeline is particularly tight, don’t downplay the importance of logistics.
Take AMAG Pharmaceuticals, for example. After acquiring the US commercial rights to Intrarosa™, an FDA-approved product for the treatment of moderate to severe dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), AMAG needed to ramp its entire Women’s Health division in just four months. When the timeline is that tight, the project requires flawless execution. Partnering with companies that handle logistical support for the interview process, which includes scheduling, making travel arrangements, and coordinating recruiting events across the country is preferred by many companies over redirecting internal resources who must be dedicated full time to the initiative.
Three best practices for ramping successfully
When you consider the potential negative impact of one bad hire, the hiring of tens to hundreds of individuals for a commercial launch can seem daunting. Here are some best practices from the field to make it easier:
With all of the timing and budgetary pressures, the commercialization process can be a stressful one. Using the timeline and best practices above as a guide for when and how to hire successfully will help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Dave Melville is the CEO and Founder of executive search firm, The Bowdoin Group.