Research Finds Collaboration Aids In Launch Of New Drugs

Pharmaceutical companies with the best product launches generally bring in the marketing and scientific departments early in the process, according to new research from Best Practices.

"If there's not cooperation going on, you're not going to have a profitable project," Cameron Tew, research and editorial director for the company tells Marketing Daily. On average, pharmaceutical companies are beginning their new product marketing activities four and six years prior to the product's launch, according to the research.

With new product launches costing somewhere between $100 million and $500 million, companies that bring in the marketing departments earlier are able to discern whether there's a market for a potential drug, identifying competitive drugs and begin communicating developments earlier, Tew says. "Companies are making go/no-go decisions sooner and sooner because there's so much money involved," he says. "What we're finding is they're putting cross-functional teams together. It allows [companies] to streamline that decision and give them some broad perspective."



The study found that spending levels across companies exhibit a consistent pattern, with about 20% of marketing dollars allocated for pre-launch market research and 80% for launch and post-launch advertising. The research looked at 12 pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and AstraZeneca.

Having development and marketing teams work together seems like a no-brainer, Tew admits. But some companies--he declined to give names because of confidentiality promises made during the study--do it better than others. "It has to be something [employees] understand is a mission of the company," he says.

Putting the teams together earlier fosters more respect for each other's jobs and gets people on the same page when it comes to developing a product. Some companies, the research found, form cross-functional teams that work on a drug from the earliest product development stages through the launch, Tew says. These companies, he says, tend to be more successful when it comes to product development and launches, he says.

"Once people start working together, they really do start to see each other's sides a lot more," Tew says. "It can be a lively debate, but it's better if the decisions come from collaboration."

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