|By Stan Bernard|
Seeking to win the launch year.
Most brand teams still try to “win the Launch Year” by conducting a military-style campaign. Once a company receives regulatory approval for their new product, they send waves of infantry-like sales professionals supported by heavy air promotional cover into physicians’ offices to battle the competitors’ beefed up front-line field forces. At the end of one year, the launch company analyzes IMS sales data to determine the ultimate trajectory of the new product’s sales in that market.
Unfortunately, in today’s competitive environment, seeking to win the launch year is often two to three years too late. The most successful launch teams conduct an election-style campaign by seeking to win the “Pre-Launch Years.” In late Phase II or early Phase III of clinical development, these teams will initiate an election-style campaign to maximize the awareness, advantages, and advocates for their “drug candidate.” They create a crescendo of positive perceptions of their new agent to ensure high customer anticipation and demand. Upon approval, doctors and patients cast their votes for the challenger agent with prescriptions to the pharmacy. Today’s launch teams can typically project the ultimate sales of a new launch product 12 weeks —not 12 months— after launch.
One of the strongest examples of such an election launch campaign was Gilead Sciences’ launch of its hepatitis C virus (HCV) drug Sovaldi. Gilead built up so much pre-launch buzz and excitement for Sovaldi that many physicians were withholding HCV patients from marketed treatments and “warehousing” them in order to wait to prescribe this new agent.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Product Launches