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Team Preparedness: What First-Time Launchers Need to Know

In their February 2021 article “First-time launchers in the pharmaceutical industry”, McKinsey & Company reported that “many first-time launchers of pharma products struggle to maximize drug adoption and realize the expected value from their launches. Their share of successful launches is well below that of experienced launchers.”

Our experience bears this out as well. We have found that while emerging pharma companies have people with deep expertise and significant pharma experience, they often don’t have the experience to build a company from scratch and/or the experience of working together as a team to do it.

We often see companies developing their first product invest largely in the CEO and the promise of the science. What people miss is the importance of establishing a collaborative team.

An emerging organization’s first team is working together for the first time, and for the most part is doing things entirely new to them. This group needs to be highly effective, strategic, and tactical, and to somehow form functions, create processes, and maintain adherence to all of the above.

These companies are startups, and they typically operate as such prior to a first commercial hire. Many executives have come from larger organizations where there were processes and systems already in place. Others are so focused on the science and bringing their product to market that they have not put into place the structure, timelines, or plans to build their commercial company.

Structured thinking needs to happen as soon as possible for a first-time launch to succeed. First-time launchers’ more experienced counterparts have the advantage of organizational structure, institutional processes, and tribal knowledge and norms. The sooner the first-time launcher invests in their team, the sooner they will begin to build their infrastructure and empirical knowledge, giving them a far greater chance to be part of the 39 percent that succeed.

Authored by: Andrew Demarco

Andrew is a Principal with SVA Consulting, LLC, a member of the SVA family of companies. With over 20 years of business and consulting experience, Andrew has a well-honed ability to help leaders and their teams make sense of complex problems, identify solutions and drive meaningful change.