3 Career-Advancing Steps to Guarantee Your Oncology Drug Launch is a Success

By Jay Maiellano posted 10-20-2017 08:44


A successful drug launch requires a more data-driven approach due to the continually evolving landscape in oncology. A 2013 study by Bain & Company shows that half of all drug launches fail to meet expectations during their peak sales. Furthermore, half of those launches missed their projected sales by more than 50 percent. The traditional strategy of attempting to launch a blockbuster drug every other year has given way to more frequent launches of pipeline drugs that target specific conditions. The current trend towards launching multiple drugs each year requires a more structured approach that includes the following:

  • Cost-effective drugs
  • Small conferences
  • Real-world studies

Cost-effective Oncology Drugs

The current market for oncology drugs rarely offers fair pricing, making cost-effective solutions essential for a successful launch. The cost of these drugs is at an all-time high, with some regimens costing over $100,000 per years. Industry analysts often cite research and development (R&D) costs as the primary reason that drugs are so expensive. The number of cancer patients who need a particular drug is typically small, so the R&D costs must be distributed among a smaller number of patients. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies typically charge what the market will bear

Strategies for reducing drug costs include supporting legislation that will allow manufacturers to bring biosimilar drugs to market more easily. Some experts have also suggested replacing the traditional cost-plus model for drug treatments with a pay-for-performance model that focus research efforts on results. Pharmaceutical companies could also make drugs more cost effective by developing combination therapies.

Small Conferences

Conferences provide attendees with an opportunity to exchange new ideas and insights into making a drug launch successful. The current trend towards smaller conferences also allows attendees to focus on their particular areas of specialty. Attendees of these conferences include a range of professionals such as healthcare providers, manufacturers and payers who are all motivated to streamline the market access of oncology drugs. The increasingly diverse treatment options in oncology therapies make a clear marketing strategy more important than ever. A small conference like CBI’s Oncology Market Access Strategy Summit can help provide drug manufacturers with the tools they need to establish marketing networks and reimbursement channels early in a product’s lifecycle.

Interactive conferences also include panels and workshops that discuss specific issues in the competitive pharmaceutical industry such as developing pricing models and implementing new reimbursement structures, especially for combination therapies. Additional issues often discussed in interactive oncology conferences include payer perspectives and solutions to the disruptive effect of biosimilars on the drug market.

Real-world Studies

Studies based on real-world evidence (RWE) are becoming increasingly necessary for obtaining marketable outcomes for oncology drugs. These studies should include large and small datasets that decision makers can use to identify a drug’s disease burden and any unmet needs the drug might fulfill. RWE is essential for determining a drug’s potential in the early stages of its development, since it can help alleviate the risk of developing an unmarketable drug.

Big data and analytics in a clinical trial setting are also becoming key requirements for trial design, patient recruitment and implementation. These capabilities are critical for ensuring that a clinical trial has the patient demographics needed to provide a representative population sample. Programs that collect RWE can often be run concurrently with Phase III clinical trials to answer questions raised by the trial, allowing knowledge gaps to be filled quickly.

RWE collection programs also help marketers build relationships with prescribers and healthcare providers during clinical trials. These professionals can serve as effective advocates by encouraging the product’s use and influencing their peers, which is essential for giving a drug a head start on its launch. An analysis of RWE also allows development costs to be calculated more accurately, allowing for the development of appropriate pricing strategies.


The high development costs and small user base make a successful launch particularly challenging for oncology drugs. Effective solutions for marketing these drugs include making them more cost effective, using RWE to facilitate decision making and attending small conferences to exchange information with peers in the pharmaceutical industry.






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