A pharmaceutical product launch puts much at stake. The average cost of a pharma launch is approximately $2 billion in the United States. Yet 50 percent of all such launches fail in the first year. Overall, 36 percent of launches ultimately fail at some point, according to Brian Corvino and fellow authors at Deloitte.
A successful pharmaceutical product launch depends on coordinated effort among many different stakeholders. To boost success and reduce finger-pointing, identify key stakeholders and use the right tools to coordinate their efforts.
Who are the Stakeholders in a Pharma Product Launch?
Sales reps often shoulder the burden of pharmaceutical product launches. As the connection between the company and its customers, sales reps devote hours of research and preparation to product launches.
This work by sales reps is essential to a pharma product launch. Yet sales reps do not have to execute a launch alone, nor should they be expected to do so. Instead, their work should be supplemented by the work of other stakeholders, including:
- Medical science liaisons
- Marketing specialists
- Key opinion leaders
- Patient care coordinators
- Virtual engagement specialists
- Healthcare and IT specialists
- Thought leaders and community leaders
- Nurse navigators
- Payers, together with national and regional accounts managers
Other stakeholders may readily come to mind, depending on the internal structure and culture of a pharmaceutical company and its relationships throughout the healthcare and life sciences industries. For some teams, the difficulty may lie not in identifying stakeholders but in choosing which stakeholders to include and which to exclude.
So, which stakeholders should you include?
Bristol-Myers Squibb identifies key product launch stakeholders by asking various questions, such as:
- Can this stakeholder help us define areas of unmet medical need related to our product and areas of focus?
- How important is this stakeholder to our business operations?
- What knowledge and insights can this stakeholder bring to our product launch discussions?
- How do the company and the stakeholder benefit from improving our communication and deepening our relationship?
- What opportunities exist for critical, informed feedback?
Regardless of the method by which stakeholders are chosen for inclusion, no launch should proceed without collaborative effort. “Every launch should be backed by an integrated approach across an organization,” writes Christopher Savage, SVP, global strategy and North American sales at Inizio Engage.
Savage recommends an omnichannel approach to coordinating stakeholders throughout a pharma product launch. The right digital tools can create an omnichannel environment that ensures key stakeholders can find information they need and contribute what they know.
Coordinating Stakeholder Information and Efforts for Launch Success
Pharma product launches have become more complex than ever. Even so, more than one-third of executives involved in product launches are working on a launch for the first time, according to Nils Peters and fellow authors at McKinsey.
Lack of experience can lead to executives inadvertently overlooking key information or considerations in launch planning. By coordinating stakeholders across the launch process, these leaders gain access to the wisdom and insight they need — without having to gain it through costly mistakes.
One way to coordinate stakeholders during the pharma product launch process is to host collaborative design sessions, writes Honora Gabriel, vice president of pharma and biotech consultancy, Archbow. During these sessions, stakeholders from multiple departments and disciplines gather to create an integrated launch strategy for the new product. They can plan various scenarios, manage integration and partnership plans, and focus on individual customer and stakeholder profiles to provide customized service.
As stakeholders are integrated in the planning process, they gain insight into how they can best provide support during the launch itself. During execution, ensure that each stakeholder team understands their role, grasps the overall launch goals, and focuses on how their efforts drive launch success.
Teams that have access to the knowledge, tools and overarching vision for a pharma product launch are better equipped to help that launch succeed. For a successful product launch, identify stakeholders early and include them in the planning and execution of the launch. A well-coordinated launch that integrates diverse stakeholder perspectives stands a better chance of success.
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