Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

Posts from the ‘Landscape Opportunity’ category

Here at Icarus, we get a lot of interesting, varied and strategic projects but imagine getting a request from a client to come up with a big picture analysis of the global pharmaceutical market and also the oncology area with no budget for commercially available reports.

This is fun and meaty stuff, and in any case, most of the run of the mill reports are not particularly helpful despite being hundreds of pages long and costing several thousand dollars apiece.  They sadly suffer from analysis by paralysis syndrome without offering any real insights.


One of the biggest challenges in the Pharma world is meshing strategy with execution in a timely and effective manner. 

My experience in big Pharma taught me that the environment is often full of Thinkers, who sit on their 100,000 ft cloud plinking on their harps contemplating ideas, with little regard the practicalities of execution and Doers, who are focused on execution and chopping down trees, without necessarily asking if they are in the right forest or chopping down the right trees.

It's also the classic Global versus Affiliate wars, although not always.


This morning I checked into my database intending to search for some information on lung cancer relating to the SATURN data in maintenance therapy that is being updated at the World Lung Congress in San Francisco.

Instead, the first dozen items were on the FDA approval of Onglyza (saxagliptin).  Oooh.  It seems that the FDA just approved BMS/AZ's joint development in diabetes, talk about a wealth of signalling data all at once.  This product is a me-too, very similar to Merck's Januvia, a billion dollar therapy already on the market.  On checking my emails and Twitter alerts, there was a bunch of information pertaining to Onglyza, Januvia and also Lantus (insulin glargine), sanofi-aventis' novel insulin product recently in the news for potential (but not proven) cancer adverse events.

Recently, I was talking with a Pharma client about signalling (or signaling as our American cousins call it) and how it can be extremely useful for marketing strategy purposes.

We are all signalling our intent, ideas and thoughts everyday in our daily lives, but imagine if you can aggregate information about a company or brands strategic intent around future business events?  This might take the form of numerous sources including press releases, analyst presentations, discussions with company employees or physicians involved with clinical studies, news articles, RSS feeds, web2.0 tools, online search, social media monitoring etc. 

Someone raised an interesting question at a conference hosted by the Business Development Institute (#BDI) that I went to last week.  They asked how anyone could possibly keep up with all the Pharma news and information, never mind follow thousands of people and interact via social media?

The answer is I don't. 

Obviously, we all dip in and snack sometimes, but for me, most of the time I aggregate my information sources and use it for intelligence purposes on demand, ie search.

It's faster, more user-friendly and ultimately, faster.


Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

One of the big challenges with the Web2.0 world is as more services provide audio through YouTube and other tools, the ability to transcribe and translate into the written word has yet to catch up with reality.  We've all experienced the vagaries of Google Translate on websites, but what about audio files? 


This post was stimulated by Martin Fenner, a clinical fellow in oncology in Hannover, Germany.  We 'met' in The LifeScientists room on Friendfeed and on Nature Networks.  He won a competition for a free iPhone app, specifically the Clinical Trials app but unfortunately couldn't use it in Germany as it is US-only.  His loss turned out to be my big gain because I use the NIH website a lot in my daily job but would never have paid $25 for it.  Last night I decided to test drive it and also look more closely at a couple of other medical apps I use.  In this blog post, I'll review the clinical trial app and review the others in subsequent posts.


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:


The Thinker, Rodin (1880)Image by radiospike photography via Flickr

I'm busy doing a couple of useful little competitive intelligence projects at the moment and it always strikes me how some companies actively use it well in a proactive fashion, while others resent paying any money on what they see as a pointless exercise. 

It doesn't really matter how you go about gathering the information, after all this could be focused internet research, telephone interviews, face to face meetings, social media monitoring etc, the important thing is how valuable is the intelligence that was gleaned?  After all, if you don’t have the information, imagine how valuable it would be to your competitors? 

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