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Product launch challenges and how to overcome them

7 mins read

Launching a new product can be immensely rewarding, not just in terms of commercial success, but also in seeing the impact that new treatment has on patients’ lives. But the route to launch success and beyond has become increasingly complex – a high-stakes, multibillion-dollar journey full of pivotal moments. 

 Those who can simplify that journey, reducing the distance to customer with the right planning and investment mix, will maximize the value of their launch and create the best possible chance of success. And that means better outcomes for patients – and a better ROI for your business.  

 At Inizio, we’re proud of our launch expertise. We’re in the privileged position to have supported more than 1,100 assets across all therapy areas; playing a part in over 50% of all US product launches in the last two years – products valued at almost $500bn. 

We recently held a webinar that saw a panel of commercialization experts from across Inizio come together to discuss the key trends pharma companies are facing and look at how our clients can tackle some of their biggest launch concerns. Here’s what we covered…

The challenges in today’s market 

Perhaps the biggest trend we’ve seen in recent times is that pharma companies are beginning the commercialization process much sooner than they have historically, well in advance of data readout. There are numerous reasons for this, including more personalized medicine for smaller patient populations, more complex reimbursement and regulatory processes, and a much more competitive marketplace.  

Over the last five years, we’ve seen a more permissive regulatory environment due to the high unmet needs of patients. As a result, companies are releasing investment money earlier, which in turn is leading to commercial and medical teams being stood up and trained much faster than ever.  

One recent trend affecting pricing – in light of the Inflation Reduction Act in the US – is that manufacturers are beginning to shift from launching with smaller, less-costly indications for their new product, to focusing on larger indications that have a greater chance of generating more ROI. We’ve also seen launch-sequencing change, with some manufacturers trying to cluster several indications at launch to maximize ROI.    

All of this means there’s now greater consideration for the pre-launch process much earlier than ever before. 

What trends are keeping you up at night?  

During the webinar, we invited our clients to respond to a set of survey questions, providing insights into their current challenges and trends. When asked about the primary concern keeping them awake in the commercialization landscape, clients highlighted the struggle of effectively delivering the right information to stakeholders at the right time.  

At Inizio, we believe the answer lies in data and how you use it. Many organizations still rely on overly broad, simplistic views of health systems. But thanks to data and advanced analytics, we can now get more precise, hyper-localized perspectives of the health issues patients and HCPs face. In turn, this leads to more contextual, personalized messages and a more sophisticated channel mix.   

We also believe there’s an opportunity for the industry to become more agile in engagement activities. Today we have the technology to be constantly testing, learning, iterating, and optimizing the engagement approach. The faster you can run small experiments and adapt, the faster you’ll learn and accelerate effective engagement. In our opinion, this is the true heart of omnichannel.  

Many organizations already have the data to make this a possibility, but we see many clients struggling to mine and synthesize data in way that provides relevant, actionable insights. 

From an organizational perspective, there needs to be a concerted effort to understand what skills, tools, and mindset you need to effectively use that data. What’s the roadmap to get there? How will your teams and operating model be set up? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are standards and best practices that are applicable to any organization looking to change.  

One aspect that’s playing a huge role in this area is AI. For us, AI isn’t about replacing human input and critical thinking, it’s about augmented intelligence: bringing humans and technology together to make optimal strategic decisions. 

Driving decision making throughout the launch lifecycle 

When asked to consider where the greatest unmet need for insights and intelligence lay to drive decision making throughout the launch lifecycle, the majority of webinar attendees highlighted the pre-launch phase ahead of receiving top-line data.    

The key here is scenario planning. What does your best-case launch look like and how do you get there? And what does this mean for all your different teams? 

Each team has to understand what its individual version of success looks like and how that relates to the bigger picture. At this early stage it’s also important to consider what impediments might be in your way, how they’ll be mitigated, and what level of time and resource you’re going to need. 

Building on post-launch momentum 

When our clients assessed the area where they believed investment would have the greatest impact in sustaining post-launch momentum, the prevailing consensus pointed towards effective data analytics to monitor, stay agile, and innovate based on insights. 

As you might expect, post-launch success is closely linked to pre-launch preparedness. Post-launch KPIs shouldn’t be an afterthought but be built into the framework 12-18 months to launch. They should be shaped by the data and insights you’re gathering throughout the pre-launch phase, so success not only becomes measurable, but also feeds into future improvements.  

Pre-launch success is based on your teams’ ability to integrate and work cross-functionally. Once you’ve launched, it’s important to not break down those links and return to old ways of working.    

From a global perspective, you need to make sure that your other markets, which may not all have the same time and resources, are well supported. Then, as those first markets launch, you should capture early learnings and best practices, sharing them with future launch markets.   

Having a plan is all well and good leading up to launch, but it’s your teams in the field who will execute it once the product is out there, so ensuring they’re well trained and fully prepared is critical. 

Even the most robust, stress-tested strategies can’t prepare for every eventuality, so launch teams must also have the agility and mindset to react to the unexpected, and then be fully open to feedback once the product is launched.  

Data from your teams, from changes in the market, from the way your competitors react, will continue to inform your strategy in the long term. How you respond to all of this will determine the long-term success of your product.  

It’s never too early to start 

As the product landscape gets more complex, it’s vital that companies plan early, unlock the potential in their data, and ensure their cross-functional teams are well orchestrated. There are many hurdles to overcome, but with the right strategy well implemented, you can give your product every chance of success.  

Discover how Inizio can support your product launch by exploring Inizio Launch Elevate. To talk with one of our experts, you can get in touch via this link.  

You can watch the entire webinar on demand here.