Pharma Brand Launch Part 1: Unmet Need in the Therapeutic Area


This post is part of our ongoing series on the Commerical Strategy and Brand Launch of Small to Mid-Size Pharma. Henry Ford famously quoted, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Understanding what needs remain, regardless of how crowded or poorly served a particular market may be, remains critical to the success of a new product. Unmet need is not defined exclusively, however, by either scientific or physician perspective. There are many products which would never have entered the market had physician perception of need been the only indicator of its value. Many of the most successful products in the pharmaceutical world have addressed needs that physician research actually indicated did not exist. Conditions that impact quality of life and productivity were for years undervalued in terms of unmet need because the wrong populations were being researched. Examples of these conditions include migraine and erectile dysfunction, among others. Understanding where the unmet needs reside within the healthcare environment and the many touch points involved is critical to both valuation and planning for new product development and introduction.


There was a time when understanding and influencing physician perception were the keys to success. In today’s environment, understanding the patient perspective, the payer perspective, the healthcare system perspective…all are critical to successful launch of a product in the US healthcare environment. If you are a one- or two-person commercial function, however, you simply won’t have the resources to gain significant insight into each of these areas. It will be essential for you to understand how you need to prioritize your markets, customers and end users based on your commercial objectives for the compound and the scope of unmet needs it is able to address. For a small or midsize company, it is critical to success to have a clear understanding of where the product must establish itself within targeted markets to optimize return on investment. Market research can then be utilized to determine what the opportunities and obstacles are that will need to be addressed to successfully achieve the desired positioning in the marketplace into which the new product will launch. Image courtesy of Boobook48 on Flickr Creative Commons