When a new drug comes to market, chances are it will launch globally, or at least across multiple territories. It’s a global marketplace, and with all the restraints on pharmaceutical growth these days, you’ll want to spread your bets. Your launch team needs to be organised globally too.
But what does a global pharmaceutical product launch actually mean? It’s about applying a global template, and the associated product launch steps, on an often highly localised basis. Certainly, there is significant harmonisation across regions such as the European Union or Latin America, particularly in conditions for drug development or approval.
As we noted in our Market Access Checklist, though, approval and market access are two different things, particularly when medicines are increasingly subject to value assessments. And market access is no guarantee of pharma launch excellence.
Entering multiple markets means exploiting as much as possible the advantages of co-ordination, alignment and economies of scale in a global launch plan. But you also have to recognise how much market access hurdles depend on local health priorities, budgets, capacity and demographics.
Launch sequencing may also be a critical component of launch readiness. Many countries use external price referencing to rein in national costs, and look to health technology assessments in other markets when applying value parameters.
The transition is not just from global to national but often from national to regional or local, as health systems devolve decision-making and budget responsibility to organisations or institutions with more awareness of local needs and economic drivers.
At local level you need to identify and engage key opinion leaders, patient associations or social-media influencers who can help your new launch gain traction. You must understand who your key customers and competitors are, how rival products are positioned, and any regulatory, legal or cultural nuances that may render a valid approach in one market inappropriate or counterproductive in the next.
As business-support specialists Williams Lea Tag point out, most companies simply “can’t justify the time and resources needed to conduct grass-roots level research every time a brand wants to launch a product in a new country. As a result, defining a global strategy and refining it to local audiences is vital to its success.”
To find the right balance between global and national or local considerations, pharmaceutical launch teams must at all times think global and act local. By aligning launch activities, they can reconcile the consistency and stability of a global launch strategy with the fluidity and flexibility of local insights.
Through global-local alignment, companies can gain maximum benefit from understanding and addressing local particularities within a global framework. They can be on constant alert for emerging local issues, such as legislative changes, pricing upsets, misguided marketing strategies or serious adverse drug reactions, that in a viral world may rapidly undermine launch activities.
Of course, pharmaceutical companies and launch teams inevitably split along global and local lines. There is no one way of doing everything. Marrying global and local priorities may be as tricky as achieving cross-functional alignment in a launch programme.
Local launch managers will have built relationships and strategies to fit the prevailing market conditions, business practices and cultural norms. They know their market, whatever the global launch plan may say. With these disparities in mind, ensuring sustained alignment across countries takes a lot more than team pep-talks.
So how can you be confident your global and country launch team are always on the same page, aware of any negative or positive developments on the horizon, and pulling in the same direction, towards launch excellence? As explained in our recent Guide to Launch Readiness in 2019, state-of-the-art launch readiness software, such as SmartLaunch™, enables you to track launch progress from market to market in real time.
With 360-degree transparency and visibility of launch milestones and key developments, your global and country launch teams can keep any emerging issues on the radar, ensure they are discussed before reaching criticality, and formulate pre-emptive strategies that accommodate both global and local agendas.
By leveraging global to local communication, awareness, and alignment, you can make the most of your launch team’s capabilities and manage your launch programme efficiently and transparently to optimise market entry every step of the way.
TRiBECA® Knowledge provides pioneering software to some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, to help them optimise launch, market access and tendering operations. Our launch readiness platform SmartLaunch™ helps pharmaceutical companies to optimise launch readiness by enhancing visibility, transparency, communication and collaboration across products, management layers, business functions and countries worldwide. This will drive better-informed decisions around launch strategy and execution, while avoiding unnecessary delays and improving speed to market, to the benefit of the business and patients alike.