Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

This blog post is inspired by the enigmatic Eric Garland, who gave a superb presentation at the recent annual SCIP meeting in Chicago.  Sadly, I missed the event due to business commitments, but he kindly shared the deck as you can see below:

I'd like to take a couple of general points he raised and relate them to the Pharma and Biotech.  First of all, Eric stated:

"For competitive intelligence to survive it must blend with psychological reality and focus on business development, not just Cold War 'enemy tracking'."

This is so true.  CI is not an academic exercise and most marketing folks are usually intuitively on top of what what's going on in their market.  There is nothing worse than spending five or six figures of precious budget only to be told what you already knew.  Monitoring studies are on their way out.  But that's the big white elephant in the room that many CI people are slow to catch on; companies can no longer afford to spend over $1M in salary and benefits to indulge a group mere academic confirmatory studies.  Thus, we find they may well be a dying breed.

The smart companies are thinking differently. 

They're integrating CI, landscape assessments, KOL research and highly technical analyses in one project via the market research or marketing departments that helps them understand the bigger strategic issues to enable smarter decision making.  We've started seeing more of these complex RFP's coming through lately and they make my heart sing.  Why?  Because they excite us – it's a chance to work in partnership with the cross functional team and really make a difference – either through identifying suitable licensing candidates that may make a real difference to patients lives or through creatively finding new ways to increase brand revenues.  That's where you add significant value to an organisation.

The other idea I liked from Eric's presentation was this chart about how the future of intelligence might look:

Picture 70
The top ideas for the next 1-5 years are already happening now in technical fields such as oncology, hematology, immunology and HIV, as are technological revolutions.  As more and more smarter targeted agents are hitting the cancer market, the role of biomarkers, histology and gene mutations are increasingly affecting how patients might be segmented and treated.  Technolical advances in cancer research at the molecular level is quite frankly astonishing, although there is still a huge body of research yet to be done. 

Gone are the days when new drugs came out and everyone got blindly treated with them, irrespective of whether they could predict whether they would actually work or not.  Now you have to understand the science and biology of the disease as well, which is no bad thing.  The Obama Stimulus Plan will help in this regard,

With higher priced drugs hitting the market, you'd better have a sensible rationale for WHY, WHERE and WHO your drug might actually be suitable for.  The massive block of older baby boomers will soon to be eligible for Medicare coverage, the cost of therapies in the OECD and developing world are rapidly increasing.  Major decisions need to be made on rational treatment and reimbursement or the global health care system will be as broke as the banking system.  Another bubble could soon be in the making, only this time it's Pharma getting greedy, with inevitable predictable consequences.

Going back to competitive intelligence, how does this all hang together?  Well, the smarter companies are using CI to inform business decisions, integrating it with marketing and business develepment/licensing, analysing markets to address health and lifestyle issues and driving the future portfolios for real growth.  The slow companies are still out in left field, focused inwardly on 'competitors' and what they're doing.  It's no longer good enough to be 24th to market with yet another me-too similar drug. 

Innovation, integration and thinking differently will be the keys to success as the baby boomers become seniors in the next few years.  That takes boldness and creativity to think outside of the box; it is also a very long and lonely road, but thank goodness there are some enlightened companies out there treading that path rather than be stuck in left field doing the same old, same old.

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3 Responses to “Using competitive intelligence to drive business”

  1. gregorylent

    your link to eric is broken i believe …
    and i do like your use of the word “enigmatic” 🙂 he has just shown up on my radar screen recently, intriguing mind …
    and what he doesn’t yet know how to articulate, and neither does neuroscience, is that the value of levels of consciousness will be something we can be sure will outshine levels of intelligence in terms of pragmatic usefulness …
    yes, some people are more conscious than others, and the differences are astounding …
    so, onward … and if you are not meditating, it might prove wise to begin 🙂

  2. Sally Church

    Borked link fixed, thanks Gregory.
    Sometimes people can ‘see’ things but I’m not sure if it is related to ‘consciousness’ as you are thinking of it or it’s just a matter of being able to use data to see trends and patterns in the big picture.
    Either, for those who have it, I’m delighted when they choose to share it with others.

  3. business guru

    I used ecompetitors.com to get an analysis of the industry. The information they provided was pretty useful and it did a lots of good to my company.
    I was amazed looking at their resources about technologies.

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