The six-month period after the launch of a new pharmaceutical product is the most critical, with the market performance in this time setting the tone for years to come. Despite this, pharma still struggles to achieve launch excellence. Here are three steps pharma can take in the pre-launch period, for the launch itself, and post-launch to help ensure new products get off to the strongest possible start.
Pre-Launch: Use Digital to Level-Up Your Market Research
According to a 2020 study by Deloitte, over one-third of novel drugs approved in the US between 2012 and 2017 failed to meet sales expectation after launch. Around 70% of those continued to miss expectations in subsequent years, highlighting the importance of the early days of a new product.
One of the three most common reasons cited for products falling short of expectations was “inadequate understanding of market needs (e.g., underestimating the difficulty of converting customers—prescribers and patients—from existing therapies).”
This is despite pharma dedicating vast resources to pre-launch market research, upon which aspects such as product positioning and messaging are based. In discussion with one of our partners after one such disappointing launch, the question was asked: “could we have known?”
This question led to the development of ‘DigiSimilars,’ through which we break upcoming products down into their core characteristics, find products that share these individual characteristics, and use anonymous data from our MyTherapy userbase to compile a digital profile of the new product.
The unique aspect of DigiSimilars is the ability to use real-world data long before a product ever hits the market, allowing pharma insights that are not possible using usual market research methods.
Just as products that underperform upon launch continue to do so, 80% of products that meet or exceed expectations continue to do so afterward. By taking every step to ensure that market needs are fully understood and prepared for, pharma can help avoid some of the major pitfalls that cause so many new products to underperform.
Launch Time: Increase Patient Awareness & Activation with Targeted Campaigns
Come launch time, pharma reps are busy engaging with healthcare professionals about the new product. However, patients themselves are often overlooked due to reasons such as advertising restrictions and the perception that patients are not the decision-makers when it comes to their treatment.
However, as we have previously discussed, patients often play a key role in the uptake of new drugs.
Pharma, therefore, should be upping its game regarding patient activation and awareness campaigns. This can be done by following a few steps:
- Define the desired impact: Based on pre-launch market research, what challenges can be expected upon launch that can be addressed using patient-facing campaigns?
- Engage the audience: Rather than simply regurgitating content from the information leaflet, ensure that headlines, pictures, and the content itself engages users
- Employ modern performance marketing methods: Just because strict advertising restrictions are enforced around the world when it comes to prescription medications, it does not mean that the latest marketing methods cannot be used for campaigns. Our MyTherapy Campaigns Engine has been designed to specifically support pharma content campaigns by targeting specific user groups and using analytics to track the behaviors that matter to pharma
You can read more about our approach to activation campaigns here: A Pharma Launch Leader’s 5-Step Guide to Patient Activation.
Post-Launch: Gain Greater Insight into Real-World Performance
Beyond sales figures, identifying post-launch KPIs is one of the crucial aspects of any launch. Digital platforms can help pharma generate qualitative and quantitative data in the months and years after a launch, that can be used to understand the performance of a new product in relation to patients’ behavior and perceptions.
This can relate to topics such as adherence and persistence, which can be measured using quantitative data, or topics such as patient attitudes, which can be gathered via surveys.
We use our MyTherapy platform to gather both, taking advantage of our seven-figure userbase to gain actionable insights that matter to pharma. Depending on the individual requirements of our partners, we can generate information regarding the real-world performance of a new product and draw comparisons with competitors.
Alongside DigiSimilars and our MyTherapy Campaign Engine, this allows us to support our pharma partners throughout every stage of the launch process and help ensure products fulfill their potential once on the market. If you want to learn how we can contribute to achieving launch excellence for your upcoming release, don’t hesitate to book a meeting.