10 tips for a faster life science launch

Natasha Cowan | 14 September 2021

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Ahead of our new publication on fast-paced launches, we’ll reveal our top recommendations for executing a successful launch at speed. Read our expert advice and sign up to be the first to receive the new publication.

Accelerated launches have been around since the 1990s AIDS epidemic when regulatory bodies first saw the value of using surrogate endpoints to speed up the approval process and provide treatment options for patients suffering from the deadly disease. Since then, drug launches have become faster, culminating in the unprecedented approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine in under 18 months.

Now, more than ever, life science companies are facing rising competition and immense pressure to shorten timelines, reduce costs, and meet the needs of complicated networks of stakeholders with shifting expectations and needs. Solving these challenges demands an agile and cross-functional approach across all the phases of the launch.

Ahead of our new publication, ‘“Launch fast without compromise” (which you can sign up to receive on September 27 at the bottom of this article), our experts have outlined their top 10 tips for successfully executing a rapid launch.


  1. Scenario planning is key

One of the biggest challenges of a fast-paced launch is navigating uncertainty. Regulatory curveballs, unexpected clinical trial results, and the shifting market can all disrupt a launch, wasting valuable time and resources.

Scenario planning is an iterative approach designed to help you map your resources to the numerous possible outcomes so the launch team can respond nimbly and quickly to the changing landscape. Once you understand the different combinations of scenarios that could happen, you can work out the best way to invest your time and allocate resources. The challenge is thinking beyond the most obvious scenarios to chart the multiple paths to launch.


  1. Develop a consistent approach to HTA and payor submissions

As launches become faster and more complex, market access affiliate teams experience more pressure to balance their time and resources when developing health technology assessments (HTA) and payor submissions.

A consistent approach helps global teams to empower affiliates with tools to support them with submission development and free them up to focus on generating the local data, messages, and strategies that will have the biggest impact.

The foundation of the approach is greater internal alignment, and many companies are turning to technology to improve collaboration and drive faster knowledge transfer between global and local teams.

Digital tools can ease the demands on affiliate teams, giving them more time to generate the local evidence-based components of HTA and payor submissions and engage with stakeholders to perfect the local strategic narrative.


  1. RWE can be a key asset throughout the life cycle of the launch—just make sure it’s relevant

Life science teams can leverage real-world evidence in an abundance of ways during the launch process: from using the data to drive regulatory approval for an accelerated launch to leveraging the insights to refine trials and develop a richer experience for healthcare professionals and patients.

However, there is still a gap between which real-world data (RWD) to leverage and how to create actionable changes that improve patient lives. Developing a responsive process that spans cross-functional teams will help you focus on the data that is clinically relevant to all stakeholders—from regulators to healthcare professionals and patients—highlighting the efficacy, safety, and value of the product for improving outcomes.


  1. A fast launch doesn’t mean compromising on rigorous insight generation

Generating meaningful insights can be a time-consuming process. So how can you retain precision and analytic rigor during a rapid launch? By integrating technology with the skills and knowledge needed to work fast in the face of unpredictability, you can rapidly uncover the unmet needs that matter most to stakeholders and the opportunities for the business to meet those needs.

Tools like artificial intelligence (AI)-driven recruitment have become an increasingly reliable and affordable option for balancing speed and reaching the right people, particularly key opinion leaders (KOLs), clinicians, and payors. The technology can be used alongside more traditional approaches, such as leveraging word of mouth and social networks.


  1. Create an agile and cross-functional launch readiness team

When launching in a condensed timeframe, workstreams run in parallel and move quickly. Often, teams do not have the time to understand how one workstream impacts another. Developing an internal launch readiness team will help to uncover disconnects and align overlapping workstreams, keeping the team on time, accountable, and on track to reach its goals.


  1. Succeeding in the wake of COVID-19 will mean developing a connected digital ecosystem

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry reactively responded to meet customer requirements in a world where face-to-face engagement was tightly constrained. As the dust settles, it has become clear that stakeholders are striving for more connected experiences and solutions that meet them at the point of need.

Life science companies now need to re-evaluate customer engagement preferences, ensuring they are set up to meet stakeholder needs. By developing a connected digital ecosystem across the customer journey, life science companies can create a flexible launch that optimizes the right channels at the right time for different stakeholders—crucial for developing positive customer experiences that drive better engagement.


  1. Invest in a data-generating pre-launch campaign

Investing in a pre-launch campaign is one of the best things you can do to ensure a successful launch; it allows you to learn about your stakeholders. By developing sustained digital engagement pre-launch, you can generate insights on the kind of content and experiences stakeholders want, how they want to be engaged, and the behaviors they exhibit across multiple channels.

Armed with this information, you can develop segments and build a value-adding and relevant launch campaign based on each customer’s personality type and engagement needs. By learning everything you can about the customer pre-launch, you can invest more strategically at launch and improve the brand’s launch trajectory.


  1. Learn from the tech giants and take an iterative approach

Technology entrepreneurs view optimization as an iterative process—leveraging new insights to refresh and update the product strategy. They constantly monitor user information and feedback to improve the product design and usability.

Similarly, life science companies can also adopt an iterative product life cycle process by gathering engagement data and using the insights to update the brand strategy and assets continuously, driving better customer experiences.


  1. Don’t skimp on salesforce training

Life science companies approaching a fast launch now need to not only quickly equip the salesforce with the latest data, they also need to upskill them to meet customer needs in the new hybrid online and face-to-face world. As a result, sales reps must become fully prepared to operate as part of a broader omnichannel-driven approach to engagement.

Succeeding in this space will mean developing an established cross-functional strategy for launch training, equipping reps with a hybrid of remote and face-to-face selling capabilities along with a crystal-clear understanding of the evolving clinical data and positioning strategies.


  1. Strategic continuity is vital

An agile launch process is a key asset for streamlining your processes and ensuring your teams respond to the evolving market and changing stakeholder needs. However, siloed teams, skills gaps, and inefficient internal structures can slow down the launch, causing the strategy to become misrepresented and diluted, which in turn will have a negative impact on both effectiveness and efficiency of the launch.

Succeeding on a rapid timeline means developing cross-functional teams with clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, as well as engaging an agency partner that can ensure the strategy is not lost as the launch progresses, across all stakeholder groups.


On September 27, we will launch a new publication exploring the key components of a rapid launch. The report will deep dive into each of the above recommendations and include expert analysis from our cross-functional teams, spanning market access, medical communications, and commercial strategy and execution.


Sign up below to receive a free copy of our upcoming publication on launching fast without compromise on the 27th.

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