Launch Excellence is a term which has become more established across the Pharma industry over the last few years, but what is the history of Launch Excellence? The emergence of this new discipline has been driven by some key challenges in the environment and has caused many to evolve how they operate. These challenges include;

  • Lower number of New Chemical Entities (NCEs) reaching launch
  • Limited competitive differentiation combined with a more crowded environment
  • New 4th hurdle barriers limiting potential markets
  • Reduced access to key stakeholder groups to convey relevant benefits (cost or therapy related)

With these new aspects to consider, there became an acute need to rise to the new challenges, work in a more cross-functional and collaborative way and align all launch teams to the right plans so they maximize every single launch opportunity.

IE’s CEO, Steve Marsh, has experienced the emergence of Launch Excellence from both internal and external perspectives and feels this discipline is only in it’s relative infancy with much innovation and change needed to properly realize the full potential of new treatments.

Putting it simplistically, the pharmaceutical industry initially developed from scientific discoveries and developed into mainstream commercial drug manufacturing. There was very little competition between the main companies intitially, but as patents expired and technologies expanded, companies small and large were competing in the market.

As a result of fewer NCEs being launched, the market is now inundated with products for the same indication. A noticeable focus in the current market is the refinement of molecules such as dose, symptoms, price. These refinements will enable the differentiation from one brand to another.

In the early years of competition increasing, the need to understand who were the target patients for the drug and to educate key stakeholders if the drug was not for a mainsteam disease arose and it was mainly the Market Access roles that were the first to emerge towards the world of Launch Excellence. Moving on from that situation, getting a drug to launch became a complex and diverse process.

I’m sure the idea of having a Launch Excellence culture of maximizing each launch with best practice is a common ideal shared between pharmaceutical companies. However, I’m also sure that everyone has a different opinion on how this ideal state should be achieved.

Globalisation is one way of aligning launch teams throughout different companies and reducing the cost and complexity of duplicating processes. However, does the globalisation of a process that needs to be individualized by brand and company always work? Is it always an appropriate approach?

In addition, over the past few years the therapy area of immuno-oncology has been rapidly expanding with immunotherapies entering the mainstream market. The addition of a new therapy area brings new challenges to the Launch Excellence process such as further education of stakeholders in regards to the safety, efficiacy and clinical potential of these types of treatments.  Also, new franchises have to be developed that perhaps didn’t exist prior.

So how will the Launch Excellence culture within healthcare change in the future? With the real possibility of genetic testing and personalised medicines how will companies target and market to their relevant stakeholder and patient base?

Today there are various roles around ‘Launch Excellence’ ranging from local launch excellence managers through to global departments totally focused to build launch readiness capabilities.

So what does current and best practice look like today, and how should it evolve tomorrow?

Do you have any views or examples of how Launch Excellence has evolved in your company?

Share your thoughts and join the debate, we’d love to hear from you.