This post is part of our ongoing series on the Commerical Strategy and Brand Launch of Small to Mid-Size Pharma.

Once there is a baseline understanding of which unmet needs the new product can be demonstrated to address from a clinical and promotional standpoint, determining where the product can be meaningfully positioned in the existing treatment algorithm (standard of care) will allow you to both further refine its valuation and anticipate what will be required to achieve success. If the goal is to displace an existing first tier therapy, and there will be clinical data to support that positioning, congratulations! However, in crowded therapy areas such as diabetes, hypertension or hyperlipidemia, the goal has become to understand where within a complex tiered system of therapies you should position your product based on its clinical profile and how physicians, payers and healthcare systems perceive it’s most appropriate use.

An important point to make here is that if your organization has its own sales and marketing presence, a capable marketing partner, or you are looking to sell a product to a company with sales and marketing firepower, market research should focus on understanding the current tiered behavior, and not just on physicians’ or payers’ stated preferences. There is an old adage in marketing that there are three answers you will always get from market research if you do it poorly; the new product has to be more efficacious, dosed less frequently, and be cheaper than its competitive set. You know this without doing any market research, so don’t spend your limited resources asking questions that get you to these answers! We would suggest you work with a market research partner that will help you get at the underlying needs on the part of the most strongly affected end users in the therapeutic environment. If you understand their motivation to address those needs, you can capture insights that will best inform what you will need to do to leverage your product and company strengths to overcome obstacles and establish your desired positioning in the treatment algorithm.

We never forget that the resources put into developing new products are astronomical. Your company has to have a clear understanding of whether or not a compound will allow them to at least break even in the marketplace before continuing to sink costs into its development. We understand that as the commercial voice for a product in development, there must always be a cost/benefit analysis taking place in the back of your head. Unlike your large pharma colleague, you carry with you that cost burden as a part of your decision-making throughout the development decision points for the compound.Image courtesy of Steven Depolo on Flickr Creative Commons

Shirley Stoltenberg

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