Always Be Launching

A new blueprint for oncology product launch


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Historically, the biopharmaceutical industry has loved big-splash launches for new products. Given the high stakes and large investments required to push a treatment to market, companies needed to develop an exhaustive (and exhausting, at least for the launch team) program of activities—research, advertising, events—to be executed across every conceivable sales and marketing channel. Activities were planned on an intense launch timetable—creating a sprint leading up to the big event—with an emphasis on keeping the program on schedule and aligned across functions.

But in the oncology space, launches are becoming less of a sprint and more of a marathon. As the commercial viability of cancer drugs increasingly relies on approval in multiple settings, it becomes more important than ever to develop a more “continuous” launch model. We need a new blueprint for launch preparation, one that isn’t solely centered on activity planning and execution—although these are still very important to commercial success—but rather on efficiency, and on communicating and defending a core competitive advantage. The new launch model also needs to move beyond a single product in a single indication to better accommodate a portfolio of drugs and multiple indications launched over time. This results in a series of smaller, overlapping launches, which will need to build toward supporting the overall value of the asset.

About the Experts

Sarah Hamilton is a manager at ZS’s Boston office and joined the company in 2010. She works in ZS’s product development practice area and focuses on product launch within the pharmaceutical industry. Sarah has spent the past several years dedicated to the ZS oncology vertical, working with clients ranging from small biotechnology startups to established pharmaceutical multinationals that are trying to expand within the oncology market. She has significant experience in launch opportunity assessments, commercial organization design, forecasting, market research and launch plan development for both global and local organizations. Sarah holds a master’s degree in applied science from the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s in applied science from the University of Waterloo.

Dave Cohen is a manager at ZS’s Philadelphia office and has been with the company for the past 10 years, working primarily in the pharmaceutical industry. He’s a member of the product development practice area and has spent the past several years working on projects related to new product launch, spanning both sales and marketing. On the sales side, Dave’s work has focused on sales force design, including structure, role design, resourcing needs, alignment, personnel placement and incentive compensation. Dave also has experience with quantitative market research, including demand estimation and customer segmentation. Dave holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania.