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  • Writer's pictureAnne Estepa

The principles of a successful pharma product launch

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

A successful product launch is not a guarantee regardless of how great the product seemingly is. When it comes to pharmaceutical products, this sentiment remains as true as ever. In fact, a study conducted recently showed that when it comes to drug launch, about 66% fail to meet sales expectations in the first year. And what's more, among those that do achieve the first-year target, 35% will fail to retain their growth in the second year.

So yes, pharma product launch is no walk in the park. Thankfully, it is far from an impossibility either. With the right strategy, increasing the chances of a successful pharma product launch is achievable.

The general requirements of a successful pharma product launch

Before we go into detail regarding strategies of a successful pharma product launch, it is worth noting that none of these would be possible without first having a broad internalized outlook for your launch.

By broad outlook, we mean understanding the key principles that should always guide your pharmaceutical product launch plan. A summary of these principles is listed below:

  • A great pharma launch plan must be cutting-edge.

  • It must be powered by an original value proposition

  • It must involve clearly defined teams who are ready to deal with potential, unforeseen challenges as they arise

The obstacles

Pharma product launches fail for myriad reasons, too vast and sometimes too unpredictable to list them all. Nonetheless, there are a few constant fixtures to look out for. These include:

  • Failure to target the right prescribers

  • Overestimating or underestimating market size

  • Failure to hire the right sales team

  • Subpar marketing strategies

  • Failure to commercialize your new drug

  • Poor awareness of competition and competitor moves

Naturally, overcoming these obstacles is a most important step towards achieving launch success for any pharma product. So how exactly do you overcome them? We provide a detailed insight below.

Targeting the right prescribers

Targeting prescribers seems simple on the surface, and perhaps it used to be, but not anymore. Prescribing habits are continually changing. Nowadays, for optimal results, it is highly advisable to partner up with a company that makes use of data to assemble better prescriber profiles.

Once you get a hold of these profiles, you can then identify the right physicians within your targeted locality. And that's another great aspect of making use of data to identify profiles.

This way, you can group targets by location, demographic, payer data and many more. This strategy not only helps for the short-term, but also for subsequent marketing in the long-term.

Estimating marketing size

Obviously, you don't want to overestimate market size and commit more than you should. You also don't want to underestimate market size and commit too little.

Of course, proper knowledge of your market size isn't only needed for the purpose of commercialization, but also for regulatory reasons.

Launch readiness is also better assessed when you know what your goals are, which is usually a function of how big your target market is. Decision making, too, is easier and more accurate thanks to this knowledge.

All of these reasons are why it is always advisable to spend as much time and resources as possible accurately measuring market size and understanding your target population.

Hiring the right team

Healthcare will always be in need of the right human marketing team regardless of digital technology. Patient-oriented approach with personal touches yields results. Of course, the best approach combines top pharma reps and advancement in technology to formulate a highly precise, efficient, and streamlined sales strategy. But to achieve this, a pharmaceutical company must be willing to do what it takes.

And what it takes is to recruit highly experienced sales executives, work with firms that offer PR services, and provide them with every bit of support they need to succeed.

An experienced sales team is invaluable to pharma product launch success. You don't want to cut costs at this juncture.

Marketing strategies

Marketing strategies have evolved over the years. With the rise of digital technologies, old problems are long gone. But of course, new problems have arisen.

Nowadays, proven brand value is key. The way to achieve this is by providing detailed information and social proof. No matter how different marketing strategies are nowadays, one thing remains constant - consumers want brands they can trust.

Details and social proof play key roles in this.

Additionally, don't neglect the importance of data in your marketing. The best marketing strategies are data-driven.

Commercializing your drug

One of the numerous reasons for poor pharma product launch is the expectation for a product to sell itself. While in an ideal world this can be possible, in the real world the opposite is often the case.

In short, no matter how great your product is, never expect it to sell itself. Instead, endeavor to employ key commercialization strategies to make your product market ready. Some steps you may employ to achieve this include:

  • establishing price to value ratio

  • considering additional indications/off-label uses

  • identifying market share

  • considering payer models and

  • formulating a coherent plan that coordinates the above factors

Competitor awareness

Lastly, failure to identify competitors is one of the biggest factors contributing to product launch failure. What's more, most of the time, identification alone is not enough.

A great deal of pharmaceutical products fail because even though the manufacturers have successfully identified all competitors, they failed to anticipate their next moves.

Anticipation is just as important as identification because pharma is a living breathing industry. The market continually changes and manufacturers who fail to predict their competitor's next move usually set themselves on a path of doom.

In Conclusion - Align, anticipate, adapt

The crux of every successful pharmaceutical product launch can be summarized into three As - align, anticipate, and adapt.

Align your product to market standard by taking the appropriate commercialization steps, researching competitors, prescribers and hiring the best sales team. Immediately this is done, begin to anticipate changes in technology, disposition, and market conditions.

Lastly, never fail to adapt to these changes. Do these, and you would be significantly increasing your chances of sustainable product launch success.

Principles of a successful product launch
Principles of a successful product launch


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