How to make the most of integrated commercialization solutions
By Glen Martin
For pharmaceutical companies, bringing a new therapy to market can be a long and expensive journey. Research and development alone can cost $2.6 billion, on average, and can take several years. Yet, developing a quality product and getting it approved for distribution is not enough to guarantee commercial success.
A new product's success can rarely be attributed to just one thing, such as good branding or quality patient support services, although both of these are important. Rather, success depends upon the many strategic decisions manufacturers make at different stages along the road to commercialization. The choices manufacturers make in the early planning and development stages impact a product's commercial success as much as their choices after its launch.
Navigating clinical trials
At the clinical trial stage, manufacturers can face challenges with their supply chain planning and patient recruitment. They need to be able to recruit eligible patient populations, build a logistics platform that can scale up and out, acquire comparator drugs for testing, transport products across borders, and efficiently collect and analyze patient data. The suite of services needed at this stage includes everything from access to targeted provider networks to temperature-controlled, time-sensitive storage and transportation solutions and knowledge of international customs. With so many moving parts, having one dependable partner can make a big difference. The right commercialization partner should use digital platforms to track inventory while also managing clinical trial protocols and leveraging provider reach to access patients.
When to start planning: Start patient recruitment pre-trial and pre-development decision-making around packaging, temperature control, logistics platform, etc. up to 24 months pre-launch
Pre-launch: Market access considerations
Once a product is approved to go to market, manufacturers have to take some time to evaluate the evidence they've collected (and any gaps in evidence) and establish their product's value proposition, brand identity, and messaging strategy. The complex process of compiling information from multiple sources and gaining consensus on value messages from team members across varied job titles and perspectives is no easy task. Manufacturers have to develop different strategies to reach payers, patients, and providers. The right commercialization partner will have the experience and digital tools necessary to streamline this process and make it as efficient as possible, helping those involved avoid unproductive meetings and costly missteps.
When to start planning: 12-24 months prior to launch
Pre-launch: Patient services
Another critical component of the pre-launch stage is planning ahead to ensure patients will be able to access and afford the product, both of which are necessary for the therapy to reach its target patient population. At this stage, designing the right patient support program is key, as is ensuring that patients don't experience cost barriers at the pharmacy or site of care.
When to start planning: 3-6 months prior to product launch
When it comes to optimizing different aspects of the commercialization process, technology is also key. It's important to look for a partner that offers wide-ranging expertise and a breadth of services that spans the entire commercialization journey, as well as the tools to make those services as effective and efficient as possible. The best partners have high-tech tools at their disposal that can add value at each stage of the commercialization process.
For instance, a virtual meeting platform can help facilitate messaging and branding discussions. Modeling tools can help manufacturers map out the investment they will need to make in a patient assistance program. And leading patient support providers automate as many steps in the access journey as possible using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to ensure quicker speed to therapy.
Once the product is launched, it will be critical to have a plan to raise awareness about the product among providers. It stands to reason that the same partner that helps a manufacturer optimize its patient assistance program should also be responsible for educating providers about that program and helping them address any reimbursement issues that may arise. A strategic partner that offers both patient support services and field reimbursement and access services can help facilitate communication, collaboration, and even data sharing between teams, making it possible to refine the patient assistance program and overall access strategy continually.
Once a therapy is launched, the work isn't done. It's still crucial to track medication adherence and intervene to connect patients struggling with adherence to the necessary support from nurse educators and social workers based on the type of barrier(s) they're facing. Plus, ongoing data analytics make it possible to identify early issues and refine the patient access strategy.
Manufacturers will also want to ensure they're working with a partner whose continual commitment to global distribution excellence means channel strategy expertise coupled with reach into specialty provider networks, health systems, and everywhere patients present for care.
When to start planning: Up to 12 months pre-launch for field services
What integration really means
The right commercialization partner is more than an aggregator of disparate services. True partnership, and true integration, is rooted in seeking solutions for today's healthcare challenges and making investments where gaps exist.