Injecting Commercial Participation and Focus into Product Development

A world-leading pharmaceutical company wanted to increase the rigor by which the new product market planning function was carried out— a new concept at the time since marketing participation in product development was still an emerging idea in the pharmaceutical industry. Leisa Dennehy, founder of BioPharma Consultants, was an employee at this company and was assigned to develop this role in a newly-created department called New Product Market Planning.

Establishing a Process and Set of Expectations Transcending Divisions

Setting norms for a commercial development plan took top priority. Leisa led the department’s efforts to develop a template, to create a team-based process for operationalizing it, and to implement the new approach with an important NCE in the respiratory therapy area.

Market-Focused Approach Requires Clarity and Persistence

The plan template went through multiple iterations and intense debate throughout the organization. The template that was finally endorsed by the highest level of management, merged all aspects of new product planning including opportunity analysis, commercial requirements (including brand claims), clinical development, regulatory strategy, pharmaceutical development, brand development, marketing positioning, trade name/dress development, manufacturing, communications plans, market research plans, and more. The end goal? The plan galvanized all key functional areas toward a common goal of building a brand profile and executing a development plan that would create competitive advantages at launch.

Turning Radical New Processes into Action

A plan is only worthwhile is people actually follow it!  Alongside her clinical development counterpart, who led the clinical development team, Leisa co-led a commercial strategy team consisting of clinical, regulatory, sales management, managed markets, market research, and other functional areas whose strategic view would help define the development program for an important new chemical entity. The process resulted in major strategic decisions being well analyzed and bought-in by all areas.

Of course, the process had its pain and false starts. Debates about practicality vs. need of pushing the envelope on development hurdles demanded diplomacy, patience, persuasiveness and persistence. These challenges did little to thwart the highly-committed team who worked at peak performance over many months to achieve high hurdles. The commercial opportunity was clearly understood and brand profile requirements were well defined. Risky, but deeply thought-through clinical plans resulted. The pharmaceutical development objectives were both complex and unique.  Management loved the plan.

How Sweet is Hard Earned Success

The team successfully executed the development plan as envisioned by the new product planning team. The result? Within two years after launch, the product became the leading-selling brand in its category, and continued growing strongly to become a blockbuster product in a category that had never had blockbusters.  The Company was satisfied that a market-driven approach was indeed the way to guide product development goals.

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