Fundamentally Flawed: Why Rx Launches Fail

IMS has documented the changing nature of Rx launches in a series of four white papers focused on Launch Excellence. These chronicle both corporate and market challenges over some 10,000 Rx launches of new chemical entities (NCEs) in 17 chronic disease categories across 8 major markets.

As we all know, the pharmaceutical market has changed dramatically over the past decade from highly competitive to unforgiving. Today, the environment is tougher, riskier and more complex as new issues undermine marketing performance and intensify the old familiar challenges. Our markets have migrated from primary care to specialty segments overlaid by the demands of payers and (increasingly) patients in the mix. Brand teams cannot afford to approach product launches or brand positioning the same way anymore because the marketing environment is only going to get more complex.

Launch trajectory is established in 3-6 months!

The market share attained as early as three months after launch establishes the launch trajectory for most brands. Once the launch trajectory is established, it is likely to remain the same 18-24 months later or even five years later. This is the case for 80% of new Rx brands! (Source: IMS Launch Excellence) In the absence of extraneous factors like new clinical data, a new indication or some other newsworthy finding, most Rx brands never improve on that market share beyond the growth of the market as a whole.

Fundamentally flawed?

The traditional Rx positioning model used industry-wide provides no indication – or validation – that you are differentiating your brand in the best strategic manner. Too often the result is under performance. This can manifest itself in different forms: the trajectory of your new brand could be hugging the X axis, or your brand, even if perceived to be successful, could be falling short of its true potential. The root of the problem is that positioning selections traditionally are not based on data-driven predictive modeling.

Your Rx brand doesn’t have to hug the X-axis. 

Despite the years of planning, preparation, research, monitoring and massive coordination needed for a successful launch, a weak Rx brand positioning can sink the entire effort in a matter of months.

Think of strategic brand positioning as the foundation of a house. Without a solid platform to build upon the entire structure loses its strength.

When the strategic positioning is not right, the Rx brand is not perceived as meaningfully different in the eyes of stakeholders (read: Prescribers, Payers, Patients as well as internal audiences and marketing partners). Accordingly, it will not be prescribed, but will be reserved for last. Consequently, market share will remain weak.

“Less than 20% of Rx brands were able to improve their trajectory after the initial three months of launch. Most did not improve.” – IMS Health

Improve the trajectory of your Rx brand.

Launch Excellence has confirmed that literally every company in the biopharmaceutical industry has commercially underperforming Rx brands. Commercial success or failure can be diagnosed rapidly allowing brand teams to optimize their brand positioning. When the brand’s positioning is properly optimized, vetted then implemented correctly, it can be a game-changer.

The benefits of Positioning excellence.

Positioning done correctly provides a real competitive edge with information you need to maximize the return on your investment. It enables your brand teams to:

• Identify your best brand positioning option (not the brand positioning it should be but the one that it to be for the highest return on investment throughout its lifecycle)

• Evaluate its impact in real-world prescribing situation based on the results of a rigorous data-driven predictive model

• Understand how to take the positioning forward and execute a strategy that ensures optimal brand performance across stakeholders

• Create a high impact creative brief that will align all communication partners and advise senior management

Brand positioning is a pivotal marketing decision. Yet, the topic has not received the analytical attention it deserves. In today’s complex and unforgiving environment, excellence in strategic positioning is the key to unlocking true launch excellence. Use of a specialized and rigorous validation process to inform strategic positioning can make the difference between commercial success and failure.

The results of this approach are well documented in a variety of case studies. 

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