A successful pharma product launch and rollout requires an enormous amount of operational and cross-functional execution. That’s true no matter if the company is a large pharmaceutical company or a small to mid-sized one seeking to introduce a biologic intervention, drug, vaccine, device, or assay.
All too often, unfortunately, public relations agencies are engaged too late in the game—just prior to an anticipated FDA approval and for a communications launch plan.
It’s best to begin market development 18-24 months ahead of launching a product. That’s where a communications firm who knows pharma and medical science is critical.
A pharma company’s new product point person is tasked with creating a winning playbook—one that stays one step ahead of the competition.
At the same time, s/he is tackling intricacies of market access and research, pricing/reimbursement and scientific clinical trial data submissions. These include stakeholder and opinion leader engagement and concomitant data disseminations to inform clinical guidelines and policy engagement, not to mention a successful and compliant regulatory pathway.
Pharmaceutical companies big and small can fall into the trap of siloed operations to the demise of a product’s promise. They miss how public relations can be maximized to generate and leverage pre-market opportunities to drive interest and awareness about their soon-to-be available product.
Research and Development may not realize the full potential of a publication plan outside their area of expertise. Or a conscientious regulatory professional may be hesitant to embrace the important and appropriate role medical affairs can play (operating under a documented and robust corporate compliance function) in advance of an Rx drug approval and launch.
PR’s Role in Preparing the Market
Communications agencies typically work hand in hand with a company’s internal communications lead to service many of the core functions within a company. These include executive leadership and marketing policy and medical/regulatory.
A communications partner can provide a unique perspective, insights and expertise that will augment a client’s advance market effort in anticipation of a new drug, vaccine, assay, or device.
PR firms, particularly those steeped in pharmaceutical and health communications, interface with many external stakeholders who are typically influential in shaping a new product’s receptivity.
These include patient groups, nonprofit health advocacy organizations and medical societies. Health PR pros also have direct relationships with influential physician opinion leaders, major medical academic institutions, public and government health officials, global health partners and much more.
They also have deep ties to the most targeted traditional and social media outlets who cover new information and upcoming advancements that can help their audiences and prepare the market prior to product approval and launch.
Scientific communications and medical affairs planning and outreach is pivotal in laying the groundwork among physician and provider opinion leaders, particularly for today’s biopharmaceutical industry as pointed up in an insightful article published by Pharmaceutical Commerce.
Working closely with medical affairs and communications, listed below are just some of the ways a PR firm can help:
- Landscape research, analyses and mapping to help identify any key issues, supporters, detractors as well as keeping abreast of the competition
- Data communications at professional medical conferences conducted in the spirit of scientific exchange
- Regulatory milestone communications that are compliant with FDA
- Opinion leader development and advisory boards
- Nonprofit stakeholder and patient engagement
- Brand narrative development
By fully engaging your PR agency partner well in advance of approval, a company’s product launch process will be enriched with experiential knowledge, pre-existing relationships and insightful research.
The end goal would be a strategic product launch process that by design would help create a fertile market for launch.
In the words of Astronaut Neil Armstrong, “research is creating new knowledge.”