In the pharmaceutical industry, change has long been known as the only constant. But the last few years have seen the industry challenged and reshaped by drastic internal disruption and external paradigm shifts. The increasing adoption of health economics and outcomes research (HEOR) into payer decision-making means that efficacy and safety alone are no longer enough to launch even the most straightforward small-molecule drug directly to profit. The rise of biologicals, biomarker-targeted drugs, gene-specific medications, and immune checkpoint inhibitors have provided breakthrough therapies potentially benefitting millions. At the same time, insurance to cover these drugs is chaotic in some countries, rigidly stratified by government fiat in some, and nonexistent in others.
Despite this challenging environment, the pharma industry continues to grow. Global revenue grew by 41% from 2003-2015,1 and the prescription drug market is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.5% from 2016 to 2022, reaching £760 billion.2 With drug development becoming ever more expensive, the pressure is on even the most established companies to have winners in their pipelines. Meanwhile, start-ups working at the forefront of medical research may find themselves seeing enormous infusions of cash from established companies, only to have later developments dampen enthusiasm. But when it all comes together – when the drug does what it’s meant to do, and the patient improves and is not bankrupted by the cost burden – the rewards for the pharma company, for the patient, and for society in general are potentially greater than ever before. Because of this, the number of stakeholders is growing, specialization is proliferating, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to have a true holistic understanding of the market in its entirety.
These market transformations have necessitated changes in the nature and purpose of strategic intelligence (SI). Data, once a challenge to find, now floods us constantly, overwhelming our vision of the market with endless opportunities to second-guess ourselves and focus on the wrong things. In this dynamic environment, it is not enough to merely know what the competition is doing, but also what they’re not doing and why they’re not doing it. It is also vital to consider how your competition views you by taking an honest look at your organization’s strengths and challenges. SI sees through the data clutter and false signals in order to fully grasp the ramifications of all these elements shifting in and out of play. By keeping firmly grounded in an understanding of the competition and larger market trends affecting each individual market niche, SI offers pharma companies a strategic vision of the choices competitors have to make, and the options before them, both currently and in the future.
A drug in a pipeline is on a fixed course. Drug pipeline timelines may be shortened by various means, but the course of the drug through the approval process does not allow for quick responses to new competitive realities. Thus, anything less than full understanding of the multiplicity of variables affecting competitors represents a blind spot that may grow in size and financial risk with every step toward marketability.
This paper looks at key changes in the pharma landscape through the lens of strategic intelligence, and considers how this powerful tool can help pharma stakeholders grasp the full picture of the competitive environment they intend to enter.