How Pharma Marketers Can Be Super Successful With Product Launch

Only one-third of drug launches by Pharma companies around the world are successful, a detailed report by McKinsey & Company revealed some time ago. Going further, the report also highlighted that only 15% of drug launches achieved significant improvement 6 months after the launch and were somewhat closer to their prelaunch sales estimates.

In the film business, opening weekend is the most critical barometer. Ticket sales on the first couple of days or weekend easily predict how popular the movie will be with respect to ticket sales. A poor start at the box office often leads to overall poor performance at the box office. Just like movies, pharma companies have only once chance to get the launch right.

The product launch predicts how successful your product will be in next two years. Pharma marketers and launch teams have only one chance to get it right.

Challenges in Successful Drug Launch

  • The market research is not dynamic: The preparation for the launch of a new drug often starts during Phase III trials or roughly 15-20 months prior to the launch date. For some companies, it may start even before that. The launch teams gather and prepare marketing data at least a year before the set launch date. However, during this window markets often change. These changes often lead companies to deviate from their pre-launch sales estimate. Additionally, those taking part in market research generally have no or limited prior knowledge of the product, which they will need to introduce into the consideration set purely through a cold set of rational characteristics.
  • No heat-map of customers: Companies have been touching base with doctors with their field force. In recent times these interactions are becoming less and less. Moreover, field-force can only keep a log of their interactions, not how a doctor has been changing his/her practice, his additional capabilities etc. Most of the companies do not have “heat map” of their customers. Companies lack data about areas of interest for the majority of doctors, how they are connected to other doctors, how active they are on social media (remember social media has changed the mindset of doctors considerably) etc. The prelaunch marketing data hardly predicts the dynamic behavior of doctors, thus resulting in underperformed drug launch.
  • Very Few Target Perception Studies: Pharma companies hardly engage in large “target perception studies” which can predict physicians changing behavior. From the customer-behavior perspective, understanding the mindset of the small focus group is not enough. Understanding the perception about your set-to-launch product must be given high importance. It has also been found that the companies who engage with target perception studies, often limit it to a one-time activity. Dynamics of perceptions are often predictive and they are hardly a result of a data for these companies.
  • Inadequate product differentiation studies: All launches are not same. Products always differ on many aspects. Two major parameters for differentiation are
  1. The perceived burden of disease your product aims to target
  2. Qualitative differentiation of your product

Though in-house Medical Affairs Teams and consultants help in this differentiation, the changing treatment parameters such as costs, availability of drugs, and facilities are seldom felt by them directly. Thus, this differentiation remains inadequate. Most of the Pharma companies are still wary of differentiation studies with the large set of audience.  Whether a product is Go for Gold (High disease burden and high product differentiation), Stand out (High disease burden, no or moderate differentiation), A category creator (low disease burden, high differentiation) or Market Shaper (low differentiation and low disease burden) is quite undefined for many launch teams. Product differentiation studies with a large set of physicians are imperative to generate realistic prelaunch estimates and to frame proper launch strategy.

What can Make Your Drug Launch a Super Success?

  • Using today’s insights for tomorrow’s performance: Gaining insights about changing physician behavior, treatment modifications has become easier than before. Several parameters, constraints, and practice modifications are continuously changing the physician behavior. Pharma companies must track this change throughout the launch. Understanding the dynamics of physician behavior and incorporating them into your product launch strategy is a must. Digital ecosystem, such as physicians’ professional platform are great to monitor doctors and their perception about your product.
  • Shaping your brand’s landing Space: With success at stake, Pharma must continuously remain proactive, understand physicians’ concerns, questions, and hesitations. Companies also need to address these issues before the launch with innovative marketing campaigns and start shaping the perception even before the product has hit the market. Consensus building marketing campaigns with the large audience are essential to shaping up the landing space of your brand or product even before the launch.
  • Understanding pricing goals: India is a diverse country with a big disparity in socioeconomic parameters. So obviously blanket pricing strategy may lead to failure in some regions while success in other. This happens as your set price may not be accurate for a large market. Patients have a lot of impact on buying behavior these days. Thus understanding from physicians which prices are acceptable for patients is critical for your competitive pricing strategy. Pharma companies must understand prescription changing prices that can give great launch.
  • Prepare Your Launch to Be Agile: Having mentioned all the above, the most important is the change within your organization. Make sure that your launch teams are empowered to understand and perform rapid course correction in the launch in this digital age. A smile blip on the internet can make or break your brand easily. That is why proactive efforts to increase the process efficiency before the launch are highly required.
  • Perform Short Market Shaping Activities: Let’s assume you already have great marketing data with you. So are you ready to throw all your money at once? The wise answer would be, No. The wise choice would be to connect with doctors from the specialty in which your product belongs. Address their concern areas in specific disease and start priming doctors about how your product may help. Conduct interactive sessions such as online CMEs, webinars to highlight the importance of treatment and how you can help doctors. These activities are nothing but pilots on the larger scale that give you great insights as well as the good opportunity to start shaping the market for the launch. Make sure you use this opportunity.

How Docplexus Can Help for Your Successful Launch?

With more than 2,00,000 qualified doctors from 89 different specialties, Docplexus is India’s biggest and fastest growing platform. Every day at least 12000 doctors visit Docplexus to share and contribute with their clinical knowledge. They discuss difficult cases, current treatments, drugs and their effectiveness.

The interactions on Docplexus are great markers to understand what the unbiased widespread perception about a particular drug, treatment or disease is. We help pharma companies to decipher the perception about your product or disease area. Based on these interactions we also help Pharma companies to understand the “pain points” and “behavioral trends” to build a comprehensive, strong launch strategy.

Doplexus is already armed with tools to help Pharma companies. We routinely conduct Webinars, online CMEs, quizzes which are also great tools for market shaping activities.


Docplexus – Pharma’s Trusted Marketing Partner
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