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New strategic blueprint: the new first questions

By Thunicia Moodley

Thunicia Moodley

The first questions around commercialisation now start with value and access. As we enter a challenging new era of commercialisation, life sciences leaders are changing the strategic playbook, starting with the very first questions teams ask to guide launch. They’re resetting their focus on core assets, building ROI models around the yield of data investments and starting to talk about how work changes when purpose changes.

For decades, our industry has kicked off commercialisation strategy with deployment questions like: ‘How large should the sales force be?’ But today, the first questions to be answered are those of pricing strategy, trade and distribution strategy, and product value.

Those answers start building a value strategy that everything else hinges on. Discussions on price and value quickly move from boardroom to conference room where they are disclosed earlier and earlier to payer partners. That initial communications cascade creates an opportunity for debate about cost, coverage or future contracting.

It also ensures that, to account for any medical loss ratio, the new drug’s cost will be accounted for in the new year’s premiums.The other critical early question on the strategy table is risk – and risk management. Pricing remains one of the most sharply divisive topics in healthcare. A misstep can quickly end up in the news. The price and value statement in the product profile have to be accurate and strike the right chord.

In the year ahead, more companies will create cross clinical-commercial teams to focus on building stronger economic evidence, ultimately strengthening the reimbursement platform for public and private payers.

Focus on core assets

Manufacturers increasingly need to be nimble, flexible and differentiated to compete. Huge external and internal shifts are impacting how manufacturers launch, grow and defend their assets. From an external perspective, policy, regulatory and financial pressures hold sway. And internally, the shifts to new technologies and new ways of working represent both a changing management challenge and a huge mid-term opportunity.

The biggest response in industry: consolidate to do more with less. Consolidate internally by combining key functions and business units to work more efficiently together with new focus and new tools. And consolidate in market by focusing on core assets and either selling non- core assets or creating partnerships around them.

As recently as two years ago, this kind of core-asset focus led to a lot of stranded products. Rapid sell-offs, realignments and top pharma spin-offs left phase 3 studies incomplete or froze active marketing and promotion of commercialised drugs.

The industry learned those lessons of 2018 and increasingly has built stepped strategies to maximise value. For example, in 2019 we saw GSK and Pfizer come together to better target each of their portfolios and pipelines. They’re uniting both companies’ consumer divisions. Meanwhile, GSK is selling several of its non-core products to finance the $1.26bn partnership and get closer to its new therapeutic focus.

These consolidations are all part of a hyper-focus on key therapeutic areas that will drive growth over the next three to five years. New Strategic Blueprint is one of fifteen trends outlined in the Syneos Health 2020 Health Trends eBook which outlines critical shifts that are changing how life sciences leaders will develop and commercialise novel new therapies and innovations in the year ahead.

The report suggests tangible ways for responding to these powerful dynamics so that, working together, we can stay the course toward realising innovation’s full potential. Download the eBook to read all fifteen trends and gain access to worksheets that provide clear takeaways and edifying interactive experiences at

2020 Health Trends represents the knowledge and experience of hundreds of leaders and experts who work on the front lines of healthcare, as well as original research with industry, patients, payers and providers. Through research, interviews and workshops, we’re able to triangulate a future-facing look at the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Thunicia Moodley is Senior Engagement Manager, Commercial Advisory Group, Consulting, Syneos Health

In association with

Syneos Health

17th February 2020

From: Marketing



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