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Pharmaceuticals: Go to Market More Effectively

(originally published by Booz & Company)

During the past two decades, large pharmaceutical companies have relied on a sales and marketing approach based on prescription drug blockbusters. But now, this model is no longer generating growth. (See “Big Pharma’s Uncertain Future,” by Alex Kandybin and Vessela Genova, s+b, Spring 2012.)

Going forward, pharma companies will need to focus on building distinctive new capabilities systems for taking products to market. This is especially true in emerging markets, which are forecast to make up 30 percent of the global pharmaceutical market by 2015 (compared with 19 percent in 2010), and which have indigenous healthcare models for authorization, pricing, reimbursement, and distribution.

The needed capabilities will include payor engagement — working with insurance companies to address market access, pricing, and reimbursement (including innovative pricing agreements). Pharma companies will help develop value-enhancing patient services, such as compliance management programs supported by nurses, or telephone hotline services. They will need to know where value can really be attained rather than over-investing in marginal benefit.

They will also be drawn into multi-stakeholder marketing — targeting all relevant players in the healthcare system, including nurses and pharmacists — instead of just marketing to prescribers of medicine. This will require close coordination among various teams (medical, sales and marketing, market access, and pricing) to secure pricing and utilization that reflect the value of each product.

Related to this will be better commercial trade channel (CTC) management: engaging more closely with key stakeholders in the distribution chain, including wholesalers, pharmacists, and patients themselves. CTC capabilities include new distribution models, such as direct-to-pharmacy (DTP), in which manufacturers sell straight to pharmacies, enabling a direct trade relationship and paving the way for targeted loyalty programs. Other CTC examples include patient loyalty card schemes, which are common in Mexico, Brazil, and many other large emerging markets. The success of these new CTC models depends on the management of new partnerships with specialist third-party service providers (for example, to provide logistics services for DTP or to operate loyalty card programs) as well as close collaboration among product supply, marketing, and commercial trade functions.

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