CASE STUDY: LAUNCHING A NEW MEDICINE WITHOUT A FIELD FORCE (PART 1)
It was four years ago when I had a hard time combining my MBA classes and my full-time job. However, it was an enjoyable experience, and it made me love reflecting on case studies. I learnt a great deal throughout all those semi-real business challenges I had to read, and it became my favourite methodology of learning.
Therefore, my new blog post is a case study, and I hope you may share your thought with me. As it’s the norm, there’s some reality on this case, but names, locations, situations are fictional.
Moon Pharmaceuticals is a global pharmaceutical company specialised in generics medicines. Besides, they aimed to become a leader in dermatology and acquired the rights to market a new medication for psoriasis.
The psoriasis market is juice but highly competitive. Nearly all top Pharma companies are competing in this space: J&J (Remicade, Stelara, Tremfya), Amgen-Pfizer (Enbrel), Abbvie (Humira), Novartis (Consentyx), Lilly (Talz), and some more. Most of the treatments are biologic medicines with a different mechanism of actions but similar outcomes. Some products are going off-patent in Europe (Humira), and new products are about to be launched as well.
Moon’s product: Darkia, is a biologic product too. It can´t be considered an enormous innovation (none of the products recently launched weren’t either), but its profile of effectiveness and security is in the top tier. Most certainly, it has the potential of becoming a blockbuster, was it adequately promoted.
After having analysed the internal capabilities, Moon Pharma’s CEO, Aarav Khatri, had concluded that they would build a dermatology franchise in the USA. This country is, by far, the most attractive for Pharma companies, and it was expected that 70-80% of turnover would come from there. However, Europe meant complexity: many countries, local regulations, different languages, and so on. As a consequence, they have licensed the product to a European company with experience in this therapeutical area.
The above decision looked like a no-brainer, yet the European business development team has come with a complementary proposal. They agreed with licensing the main brand to a most experienced player in dermatology, but they proposed to market a second brand with a different go-to-market model: no field force involved, only digital channels.
They have created a thoughtful strategic and tactical plan, and they have put some promising numbers. According to them, two-thirds of total prescribers could be reached digitally and, were their sales forecast accurate, they could add 35% more sales to the first brand.
FOCUSING ON DIGITAL ACTIVITIES
The medical department would be split into two functional areas. One team would be focused on creating content and designing online educational resources. The other team will be focused on communication with physicians remotely. Research states that physicians are willing to talk remotely with MSLs, and it would reduce cost sensibly due to the fact of covering broader territories.
The commercial activities would be built on four pillars:
A successful website should be the cornerstone of this approach. It would only be possible was meaningful information for prescribing the product made available. Some ideas gathered were:
– Possibility to ask for samples
– Medical Education
– eMSL on request
– Teledetailing on request
– Medical network around psoriasis – product adoption
– Content curation with regards to the illness
The CEO appreciated that they have put together loads of information regarding the content, the USP of this platform and the acquisition strategy, instead of focusing on the technology. Technology might be a big distractor, and he agreed it would make all sense to outsource this bit.
Digital native HCPs are more prone to this type of real-time meetings than older colleagues. Despite not having been broadly adopted by many pharma companies yet, it could be very impactful with an appropriately trained team.
They thought that combining a mixed model, outsourcing the technology and the scheduling process, and recruiting and training in-house the teledetailing team, would deliver the best results.
3- Email engagement
This channel was critical to succeed. Without counting on a field force, email would become the standard means of communication with physicians, along with the website.
Collecting email addresses and getting their opt-ins could be challenging after the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), but there was a well-structured plan designed around the website to build this database quickly.
4- Search Engine Marketing and Display Advertising
Digital advertisement and search optimisation don’t play an important role traditionally in Pharma, but they should be exploited without a field force to generate leads and to raise brand awareness.
Taking part of main congresses, collaborations with medical associations and patient support programmes were part of the plan as well, but always with digital resources.
Mr Khatri has been analysing the business case thoroughly, along with his team, for several weeks. If it were successful, it could be a game changer, and Moon Pharma could accelerate their growth.
Customer journeys, the operational model, role profiles, etc. were fully detailed, but Mr Khatri would need more time to take a final decision.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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