Human-Centric Biopharma Product Launch

Human-Centric Biopharma Product Launch


Top 5 product launches. Complete response letters. Early approvals. Three-month extensions. Joint ventures. Primary care diseases. Rare diseases. We’ve seen them all. And in all cases, launching a new asset is one of the most critical and complex activities a biopharma company will undertake. The work to prepare for and execute any launch is largely similar (yes, there are meaningful distinctions, but that’s a whole different topic!). So, what can differentiate more vs. less successful launches?

People. People are the difference-maker. We know, sounds trite.

In our experience, human-centric launch is a – and perhaps THE – critical differentiator. But what does that mean, human-centric launch? Well, at the risk of oversimplifying an incredibly complex topic, we think about human-centric launch across three key dimensions:

1. Amazing Team with Clear Ways of Working:
Biopharma companies have honed the art of hiring strong individuals for their launch teams. They move high-achieving talent from inside the company and hire top performers from outside. But the launch team is always new, as the individuals on it have rarely worked together previously.

Now, on the one hand, that’s an obvious conclusion. On the other, it’s a profound insight that the launch team starts its work with no established norms or ways or working. To get started on the right foot, launch teams need to:

  1. Determine how to work as a new team;
  2. Select which processes to put in place;
  3. Continuously onboard new team members;
  4. Create trust across team members;
  5. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Building clear, intentional and effective launch team ways of working for a group of highly talented individuals is the first often-overlooked enabler to effective launch planning and execution.

2. Culture is Key:
Effective ways of working can’t be designed and entrenched without also considering the launch team culture. While all companies utilize tools and even AI to plan, track and manage their launch, human connectivity remains front and center. Being choiceful about the culture of the team is therefore the second enabler of a human-centric launch.

We’ve observed 4 foundational pillars of culture as key differentiators in launch team performance:

  1. Dynamic Leadership Engagement – leadership needs to engage deeply, frequently, and decisively;
  2. Atmosphere of Accountability – everyone on the team has a critical role, and the culture must enable holding each other appropriately accountable for execution;
  3. Candor & Curiosity – individual achievement is meaningless if the team is not successful; the best teams adopt a “yes, and” approach to ensuring the entire team collectively delivers the best possible experience;
  4. Agility – not everything will go to plan; a culture designed to absorb the inevitable bumps will move further, faster.

Creating a launch team culture around these 4 pillars typically yields a trusting, collaborating and productive environment designed to achieve the launch goals and objectives.

3. Customer Experience Front & Center:
We can’t only focus on the internal people and teams. At the end of the day, innovative new therapeutics are intended to improve the lives of the patients and caregivers who need them, and the physicians, office staff and broader network of people who care for them.

Deeply understanding the human experiences across this entire disease ecosystem and treatment journey, including how the new therapeutic will enhance (or detract) from the experience, is foundational for any launch. Far too often we see a “biopharma function-out” mentality erode the experience of the end customer, to the ultimate detriment of the launch.

But when the company takes a human-centric customer experience design approach to what and how they deliver the product and support to their customers, they can become a positive force in the lives of many.

There’s no question that a successful launch depends on so much more than these human factors. But we’ve seen these as critical differentiators over many launches. Over the coming weeks, we’ll share deeper content and examples on each of the 3 elements of the human-centric launch approach outlined above.

We’ll also cover these (and the many other aspects of launch) in-depth during our “Launch Planning like a Pro” immersive workshop on March 21-22, 2024.Take a look and register before it’s sold-out!

If you would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out: