Five Common Barriers to Optimal Launch Trajectory (Part 2 of 2) by CMK SELECT CMK SELECT CMK SELECT
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A high percentage of new-drug launches do not achieve peak sales, with half of them missing their targeted goals. How can you avoid your new drug’s launch from becoming part of this statistic? In Part One of this Insights Series, we discussed three of the five common launch barriers. In Part Two, we will address
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Five Common Barriers to Optimal Launch Trajectory (Part 2 of 2)

by CMK SELECT / /
marketing word cloud under a magnifying glass

A high percentage of new-drug launches do not achieve peak sales, with half of them missing their targeted goals. How can you avoid your new drug’s launch from becoming part of this statistic?

In Part One of this Insights Series, we discussed three of the five common launch barriers. In Part Two, we will address the fourth and fifth barriers and how to overcome them by effectively collaborating with the right teams and monitoring your launch post-approval to optimize your launch trajectory. If you missed it, read about the first three barriers here.

4. Working In Silos or With Wrong Teams

marketing word cloud under a magnifying glassOne individual cannot carry the entire weight of a launch on his/her shoulders and make it successful. Launch success comes from various workstreams coming together and working as a group. The key is ensuring all the right teams are included from the beginning.

Throughout a drug’s lifecycle, the focus is on sales and marketing, and brand leads typically work with the internal workstreams that support both areas. During a product launch, brand leadership needs to consider which stakeholders can help solve the supply-and-demand equation: finding that sweet spot — the equilibrium price that will prime the market so that when the new drug is approved, patients will ask for it, HCPs will prescribe it, and insurance companies will (help) pay for it.

These groups include, but are not limited to:

  • Market Access
  • Pricing and Contracting
  • Manufacturing and Supply
  • Trade and Distribution
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Patient Support
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Medical
  • Commercial Operations
  • External/Internal Communications

Crucial to the launch trajectory is not only having the right teams involved, but also ensuring that these multiple constituents recognize and understand the interdependencies between them and have a structured working environment that prioritizes efficiency and aligns the cross-functional departments to meet every operation’s launch objective.

Facilitating regularly scheduled launch-readiness meetings can offer a forum for all functional units to address how they plan to reach their goals, identify cross-dependencies and risks that must be overcome, and discuss what they need from their counterparts to support their efforts.

5. Not Utilizing Metrics or Learnings

For most pharmaceutical launches, the product trajectory is set in the first six months. That does not afford much time to adjust should efforts go awry once the drug receives FDA approval. To ensure optimal trajectory, brand leads need to monitor how the launch is progressing and take the appropriate action when things are not tracking as planned.

As the launch teams are building their strategic and tactical plans, they need to identify the metrics, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — beyond the typical total prescriptions (TRx) and sales revenue — that they will use to measure the health and performance of a launch.

Questions to consider when developing metrics/KPIs include:

  • How effective is the sales force in getting new-to-brand prescriptions? Does it vary by physician segment?
  • Which messages, and in which media, resonate the most with HCPs and patients? Are there any regional differences?
  • How fast is the drug getting into the hands of patients? Is there enough inventory to accommodate the launch demand?
  • Which carriers/plans are offering the most favorable coverage and formulary placement? Are there any carriers blocking coverage?
  • Who is attending speaker programs, and how effective are they in getting your message across?
  • How are competitors reacting to the launch of your drug?

Brand teams can best leverage the metrics data in two ways:

  • Use it post-launch to correct ongoing activities, such as marketing campaigns, supply or distribution issues, or pull-through marketing efforts.
  • Capture the information post-mortem for use in future launches, specifically identifying what worked and what did not, and the best practices for working in a cross-functional environment.

Once your drug receives FDA approval, you need to routinely track the status of each metric/KPI to gauge how close it is to achieving target outcomes, and course-correct when necessary. We suggest implementing a launch dashboard, a 360-degree visual representation of all the launch activities underway, and holding regular cross-functional meetings that address any differences between the goals set before launch and the actual performance in the market during and after launch. These meetings also provide opportunities to raise red flags for any actions needing course-correction and identify which initiatives should be continued, strengthened locally, or shared more widely as best practices.

All the learnings from the launch-planning and execution should be documented and stored in a repository, from which future launch teams can draw upon the most effective processes and best practices on their path to launch success.

Facilitating the Optimal Launch

This two-part Insights Series reviewed the reasons why many new-drug launches fail to reach their trajectory. Overcoming any one of the five barriers discussed will help steer brand teams along a brighter course for success.

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