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The Essentials of Talent Acquisition for Launch Processes on Global Markets

Author: Eric Verney Categories: Media:
15 May

The Essentials of Talent Acquisition for Launch Processes on Global Markets

We sat down with industry thought leaders to get their views on emerging trends about the KPIs required for successful product roll-out. When speaking with them, the team at SpenglerFox sought to map the current environment for acquiring new leadership and managerial talent. Our discussions also focused on how this talent helps their organizations ensure the success of launching new products on the markets where these businesses operate and how these manager-leaders set KPIs to evaluate and measure the success of said launches.

The participants who shared their insights are as follows:

Eric Bouyon: Head of Rheumatology Franchise Europe, Rheumatology Global Strategic Unit, Sanofi Genzyme

Jan Kirsten: SVP, Global Head Business Franchise Fertility, Merck KGaA

Christoph Steinschulte: Managing Director of Orphan Europe, DACH

Romain Périer: General Manager at Stallergenes Switzerland

Andrew Hodge: Lately works as VP for Strategic Projects at Eli Lilly and former GM for China Vijay Zutshi Cluster Head, Gulf & Levant, Sandoz

Marie Hélène Rhee: Director of New Product Introduction, Ipsen Group

Aurélien Breton: General Manager for Bulgaria at Servier

The content is structured such that it addresses three key areas that relate to bringing products to market successfully:

1- Acquiring needed talent for launch processes
2- Planning and execution of launches
3- Evaluation of launches and their subsequent success.


In our discussions with the experts listed above, we focused primarily on the need for good recruitment processes. We asked them what steps their businesses take in defining and putting in place a core team. Likewise, we spoke with them about what competencies they generally look for and where they find them. We posed these questions in an effort to try and understand how businesses can not only set up teams to run successful launches, but also build on and perpetuate launch momentum.

Within the group, there was general consensus that much depends on the type of launch, i.e. whether the activity is the first of its kind globally for a product or whether a similar one has taken place on other markets. If the launch involves a first-time global effort, then businesses need a team that can develop and execute work on a basic strategy: product positioning, pricing and reimbursement strategies, brand book development, regulatory strategy, etc.

If the launch is a second- or third-round activity (e.g. the product has launched on the US market and will now be introduced in France), you still need to source and acquire the right talent but the skill sets will be more refined and narrower in scope, as you can rely, to some extent, on knowledge gained from prior launches. Below, we try to focus on the main, common skills needed for a successful launch team, while highlighting some distinctions as well.

According to Andy Hodge of Eli Lilly, the main steps for a unique or “first time” launch process should include the following:

  • Have stakeholders exchange scientific information about the product to be launched and ask for feedback (e.g. though corporate advisory boards). It is very important that key team leadership services (TLS) be very familiar with the product before launch. The medical team needs to be specialized in the therapeutic area that is relevant to the product being launched, i.e. you need to have cardiologists on board when launching a cardiology-facing product;
  • Make sure your local regulatory team has secured all product registrations or, if it has not, does so as quickly as possible;
  • Get your pricing and reimbursement team engaged 1-2 years prior to the planned launch date. You will need their help in establishing an access strategy for the product and in gathering feedback from payers (public subsidising bodies) on what that strate- gy should actually look like (again, you can do this through payer advisory boards);
  • Ensure the market research team performs both quantitative and qualitative market studies. With this task, it is really important to understand the patient journey, i.e. what patients feel, when and how often they visit their doctor, how they get or pur- chase their medication, what sort of feedback loop they have with their healthcare professionals, etc.;
  • Engage your finance and distribution teams to make sure all logistics go according to plan;
  • Have the marketing team prepare materials and test possible messages through research activities; and
  • Start training your sales team 3-6 months before the launch (they should have full briefings and trouble-shooting sessions with both your medical and marketing teams).


When setting up your launch leadership team, Andy Hodge recommends appointing a single Launch Leader (preferably with a marketing background) to head up the whole team. This is advisable even in situations where individual team members may not report directly to the Leader. The person in the Leader role needs to be able to lead without formal authori- ty and have a natural influence over others. You need someone who can empathize with issues faced by all the cross-functional team members. Your organization would ideally want to have the Leader role filled two years before the launch. If the launch is very impor- tant to your business activities, then you may wish to consider hiring a full-time project manager to help the Launch Leader pull the whole process together.

According to Christoph Steinschulte at Orphan Europe, a company that focuses on treat- ment of rare diseases, the hiring process will be the same as with all other recruitment: attitude (personality) comes first and key criteria includes finding someone with team spirit, who is a self-starter, has the ability to work and thrive in chaos, has a long-term vision and is resilient. It is important that the Launch Leader knows the team will be com- municating a solution that helps treat patients with rare diseases and has experience with these types of medical conditions.

The paradigm will be different from that used in big pharma companies or for businesses working with mature products. The experience at Orphan Europe is that of a small company with small teams who work with a very limited number of patients. The team needs to be proactive and have good sales skills (yes, this applies even for rare diseases). Sales is different in our industry due to the costs of medication and treatment: 1 single patient con- verted means earnings of 200- 300,000 EUR).

The product is reimbursed, so the key task our team has before it is convincing users of the merits of the product itself. This has to be done at the sales rep level and is a journey much different from that taken for products sold on the mass market. There is no opportunity for product comparison here, nor is there any possibility for a quick win either. The sales process takes months. Sales reps need to pre- pare very well for each call, as they do not get a second chance. In specialty care, for exam- ple, you can win a new client during your first customer visit: this is not possible for orphan diseases. The process involves taking a long, intense journey with the patient.

The Leader needs to have a deep relationship with his team. In order to determine what competencies individual members have, he will need to ask series of questions based on scenarios indicative of the team’s mission. The Leader can run demos of common customer sales scenarios to assess team spirit for expected work and how individual members inter- act during cross-functional meetings: this is a good way to measure applicants’ skills when they apply for team positions. Christoph Steinschulte mentioned the value of putting team member candidates through real-life simulations, noting his past experience working in the haemophilia group at SOBI. He said this was a critical lesson where he learned one should never underestimate a patient’s reluctancy to switch to a new product.


Romain Périer from Stallergenes Switzerland commented on how his team structuring solutions are informed by his background in running market studies. He mentioned he had participated in setting up his company’s team that oversaw the launch of a major product on the US market. The launch had the potential to have great impact a company of Staller- genes’ size and also possibly to change its sales/business paradigm. In this particular case, the team involved roles for Business Development (including Business Intelligence) dedi- cated to the market study. It also included consultants and a relatively large quantitative + qualitative study that involved approaching physicians in order to understand market driv- ers for prescriptions alongside potential market share. The study involved interviewing payers in order to know to what extent the treatment could be reimbursed.

As concerns the team, the Project Lead was made out of the main stakeholders. This was because we were managing a product launch on a new market and opening an affiliate office. Also, as the project’s Marketing Studies Manager, he was to examine market drivers in order to discover key needs along with company business managers. In that particular launch team, key features that team members (talent) needed were entrepreneurial drive (entrepreneurship skills) and a curiosity for understanding what moved and drove the new market. Because this was a US market launch, the Executive Team for the project was located in Boston, Massachusetts.


According to Vijay Zutshi of Sandoz, a common mistake businesses make is running a check list exercise rather than focusing on the key strategy. When organizations ask them- selves, who are the right people? The simple answer is those with the right mindset and who are capable of generating inspiration for acquiring market share. You need people to look at market size, then determine the market share your business wants. As concerns the desired talent profile, you need people with a commitment to action, the right appetite and a particular skill set. They cannot work in siloes; the process needs to be a collective effort.

Vijay Zutshi goes on to say that it is no longer possible to starting planning just one year before a launch. Ideally, a business needs a 24-month lead-time to handle a successful launch: to run clinical trials; to gather real-world evidence; to engage and speak with KOLs, governmental bodies, etc.; and to complete stakeholder mapping. The Launch Leader needs to understand everything from medical and marketing perspectives and comprehend how both parts work cross-functionally. Mr. Zutshi has worked with and observed team members from both Medical and Strategy backgrounds and persons from these groups tend to make excellent leaders. He advises using slightly more caution when choosing leaders from a marketing background, as they, in his experience, tend to look at most matters through a marketing lens.

Conversely, experts from the Medical and Strategy Groups are not that agile when it comes to rapid decision-making. A Forecast background is often criti- cal as well: if forecasts are too conservative, you will run out of product and possibly lose launch momentum. In a worst-case scenario, you would have to re-launch. On the other hand, if forecasts are overly optimistic, that will impact overall costs (due to spending on storage). Ideally, forecasts will plan for periods over three phases: 3 months, 6 months (this is a minimum should your business need to ramp up capacity), and finally 18 months.

Then, there is the issue of whether to source talent internally or externally for your Launch Team. It all really depends on the sort of expertise you need, or what skills/insights your business may be lacking, at the particular moment. Generally, it sometimes makes sense to source externally when you need to develop a new market. However, you may end up recruiting managers who do not necessarily fit with your corporate work-style, and then you are left with a potentially poorly-functioning Launch Team.

For example, Mr. Zutshi spoke of once having to launch a biological product in one of the most developed market in Asia. His company did an assessment of its internal talent and their capabilities. Then, they looked at the cost of sourcing talent externally. Ultimately, they chose to license the product to a partner that had a solid team in place to bring the product to market. The company learned that sometimes it is better to be realistic and entrust a launch to a team that can achieve desired goals: even if this means your business’ share in earnings might be lower.

Speaking from a different perspective, Aurélien Breton of Servier in Bulgaria addressed concerns related to working with smaller teams. He was leading a group in Bulgaria that covered Marketing, Sales and Training. Many tactics were done by the company internally. At the group level, it was Regulatory and Market Access that gave projects the green light. They carried out their launch, but with small product volumes forecasts. In this case,

Mr. Breton’s team quickly assessed how critical the central role of the Product Manager is. They had a launch that covered both the prescription and OTC markets, and the team had been set up to adapt to the various sources of demand: 2 different indications, 3 targets initiating the demand. The situation called for a Project Manager who was very adaptable and organized: the organization needed someone with prescription and OTC product expe- rience in their CV but above all, a person capable to have very structured approach, estab- lishing strategies and action plans per each couple indication/target.

In Servier’s case, this was slightly more doable, because its lab was the leader in this therapy area. Nonetheless, the business needed a Project Manager who had strong relationships with the local KOLs; and also someone who was very much science-oriented. The experience in smaller market illustrates the central role of a more limited number of key people that must have a broader set of expertise than in large markets. In such small markets, there is less flexibility of the organisation and a more numerably limited internal talent pool making people recruitment and development critical.

Mr. Breton also had a similar experience on a global cardio product launch. The company set up its global team 18 months prior to its launch. It needed to do market research and get all stakeholders at the company HQ on the same page. Then, depending on the country and their reimbursement planned dates, the business trained its sales teams and initiated local activities between 3-12 months before launch.


Vijay Zutshi points out that Launch Momentum is critical and that final market share will be determined as a result of the launch. In some cases, failure arises when a team under- estimates the influence key stakeholders actually have, i.e. the role of pharmacists when it comes to selling generic medications, or perhaps poor decisions on what areas to invest in and develop.

Mr. Zutshi goes on to underscore that, after a few years working with GSK, Sanofi, Novar- tis and Astra Zeneca prior to moving to Sandoz (a generic drug producer), he realized that efficiency is what the prescription medicines industry is missing. His key piece of advice is that companies invest in, and think long and hard about, launch execution. He warns that they should not rely too much on innovation as their key selling (sales) differentiator. In that regard, he referred to a mega launch program that he had been involved in at Novartis. The launch resulted in a super acceptance rate, but the product failed nonetheless. That is because execution was not there.

Jan Kirsten, SVP and Global Head of the Fertility Business Unit, Merck KGaA, shared an additional view on the topic of momentum. Indeed, he sells both drugs and devices in his fertility business. Understandably, the launch processes for both types of products are very different. On one hand, there are very predictable processes that include Regulatory and Market Access. This is what he calls the safe side of the market launch: the one focused on pharma. In this domain, most companies run launches the same way (the established way: field force training, KOL management, etc.). Mr. Kirsten thinks this will change over time.

On the other hand, there is a more agile set-up: the device market. Devices have different economics, life cycle and launch requirements. When you do both drug and device launches in the same unit, things get even tougher. Dealing with both businesses and launch require- ments at the same time are challenging. On the device side Launch planning will also depend on indications: for large ones, you should start 18 months before; at least 9-12 months before for small ones. Things can also depend on the region too (APAC, Europe, US).


According to Eric Bouyon, Head of Rheumatology Franchise Europe, Rheumatology Global Strategic Unit at Sanofi Genzyme, team early recruitment, Access & Pricing strategy and Customer relationships are essential for a successful launch. His experience has shown him that for Specialty Care specifically (Humira, Kevzara), experience in the Therapeutic Area is key to ensure deep scientific discussion with specialists.. Likewise, you have to think through the timing of all processes in detail and take the time to recruit the right profile. Mr. Bouyon worked with a team that came up against many challenges due to the lateness of processes which resulted in a negative impact on launch readiness.

It is essential that you have a dedicated team operating in your chosen therapeutic area. Focus is key. You need a core team: key people who know the market, the customer and their needs. Internal strategy and its alignment are also critical. The strategy needs to be put into place fast in order to manage communication flows easily and to have true owner- ship of teams and their processes.

The Launch Team’s expertise in the therapeutic area is vital. This is because there is a high degree of interest in the scientific aspects of the products and their roll-out when dealing with KOLs. High-level expertise enables the team to accelerate the launch process; espe- cially, if a relationship with the KOLs has already been established. Indeed, there is no time to loose. Quite the contrary, factors that must be planned for and which can slow down mo- mentum include the need for external hiring and matters related to product access.

The latter is a critical issue, particularly in Europe. In many cases, beyond national access con- sideration, subnational access requires anticipation and preparation with a clear plan to accelerate disponibility of the product at the hospital level (Italy, UK, The Netherlands and Spain symbolize this sub-national access which prolonged time to make the product availa- ble). On these markets, there is a lot of planning work to be done at the regional level; for example, in Spain, not every region will accept prices set at the national level. This impacts commercial and sales planning.

According to his most recent launch experience, Mr. Bouyon started the process 24 months in advance: working on Team Training, Market Segmentation and Pre-Marketing activities (the latter, just six months before). This helped the team accelerate referencing into individual countries and across the region. In terms of recruitment, this meant search- ing for marketing professionals at the local market level, given that each market is differ- ent., allowing marketing teams to be in place 24 Months before anticipated launch date.

For instance, in the UK – and this is not going to change with the Brexit and current and future economical challenges – there is a strong need for this individual to have a strong knowledge of the NICE guidelines and local Health Environment. Indications are defined at the European level, after Market Authorization is granted, but Market Access consideration (access and pricing strategy should be taken into consideration far in advance), such as local plan for sub-national access.. This, however, is the ideal set-up and reality is often- times different.


Launch Team structures vary and there are a number of highly-sought-after competencies that team members should possess. According to Eric Bouyon, these include scientific knowledge, Customer relationship, as well as a willingness and eagerness to engage and share with these groups. For these interactions, it is important that local country (market) teams can work well with regional (European) and global teams; this alongside manage- ment of cultural differences.

Marie Hélène Rhee of Ipsen Group comments that a Launch Team needs to have strong representatives with knowledge of the input provided by all key roles: Market Access, Medi- cal, Marketing, Sales, Regulatory, Clinical Operations and Supply Chain. The team should, in her opinion, be headed by a Franchise Lead; usually, this is a person with a marketing background. Ms. Rhee also encourages companies not to be afraid to look for missing Launch Team talent externally; for example, if you do not have the right Marketing talent staffed, they you go out and make new hires. She points out that her business had to do this when Oncology was a new therapy group. It needed to acquire new knowledge from outside the company.

In the moment of preparing a launch, pressure on project teams is high and you have limited time for project execution. So, you have to act fast: in cases involving acquisition of licensed products or working with an acquired company. Ms. Rhee notes that in her company’s situation, it signed the contract in February and Go to Market approval came in September: seven months is a very short time for readying a launch. This holds especially true when every single step is important and sensitive: determining the expected registration date, setting prices, segmenting the market, mapping product lifecy- cles, running clinical studies, launching manufacturing operations and client services, organizing distribution and much more.


KPIs understandably vary across product lines, therapy groups and also specific global geographies. Members of our expert group had a wide array of insight to share based on their personal experience across numerous world markets.

Christoph Steinschulte told of his experience trying to decide on a useful KPI measure- ment system for launches involving rare diseases. Because of the low number of potential patients, such activities are very cost-sensitive. Every single dollar, euro, etc. counts. The most critical KPI is to monitor project management and ensure that processes are run care- fully: from data collection to final sales calculations. Small differences when running num- bers can have a large impact. Take, for example, the situation in the Austrian and German market where you have a total 100 patients. If users seeking the treatment order 4 packs of medicine instead of 5, this has a massive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Mr. Steinschulte also notes that setting KPIs for rare disease sales and product launches is difficult due to the nature of the business in general. In many cases, you are building from the bottom up. He noted that his company had to recruit a lot of new people for a brand-new team. This was a group that required a large array of skills and talent: entrepre- neurial drive, emotional intelligence, management of people care, etc. He also saw first-hand the challenges posed by having to develop a corporate culture from scratch.

This is the responsibility of the GM, but he/she has to monitor also patient visits, customer care, launch roll-out, etc. That said, Mr. Steinschulte states that timing is a critical KPI in the orphan drugs segment. You need to manage the process within 6.5 months, while imple- menting pre-launch, launch and post-launch phases. Key indicators to watch include brand awareness, sales performance and strategy adjustments.

Romain Périer reports that his most important KPIs involve tracking sales and market share figures (global market share: including indirect competitors) along with patient num- bers: from depth and breadth perspectives. He also follows market share for every pre- scriber and in every segment on a weekly basis. Then, he goes on to monitor global sales volume and new patient numbers, moving on to set qualifiers (categories) for prescribers: advocates, loyalists, users and aware individuals.

Vijay Zutshi looks primarily (when monitoring campaigns to support sales of generics) at marketing contributions, market share, share of voice, new prescriptions (if the product has been switched): all on a monthly basis. In the prescription medications segment, data on prescriptions is key; and this needs to be monitored on a weekly basis.

Aurélien Breton measures project success in terms of sizing. It is important to assess whether there is adequate budget to ensure the product has a chance at a successful launch. He then goes on to look at internal benchmarks (how are sales of launched products going, are roundtable events well attended, etc.). He cites feedback coming from sales reps and from KOLs as data critical to launch assessments. Mr. Breton notes that in some countries, such as Bulgaria, teams sometimes miss data panels and informative items, i.e. when IQVIA info is too expensive and not very accurate, and so feedback from the team and its partners is critical.

Eric Bouyon reports that he looks at five items to get a good understanding of the patient journey: Team Recruitment & Training, KOL Management (network set-up), Market Access (national and regional through cost reimbursement, negotiation strategy and alignment with global teams), Patient Strategy & Home Care Providers when applicable (UK) & Opera- tional Preparation (industrial affairs, forecast alignment and tech operations). He did a monthly review with each individual country, in close collaboration with Global and Europe- an teams including representative from key functions. He said that it is important to avoid too heavy launch readiness reviews but a clear need to key criteria, as there is a clear need to go out and solicit input from KOLs.

Marie Hélène Rhee explains that, from a Supply Chain point of view, her business looks at both the global and local teams. For instance, they will establish roadmaps for specific drugs: both at the global and local levels. Issues, such as a lack of local resources, will impact global revenues. Hence, there is a need for the Global Team to follow up with the local Medical Director to ensure the launch happens in the right way and according to plan. In her role at Ipsen, Ms. Rhee has worked closely with Regulatory Affairs regarding registration dates (for cases in Europe, the calendar is set: the company submits a request for approval and then, after 12 months, if the Authorities have no further questions, they grant approval).

A worst-case scenario would involve receipt of early approval. From a Technical Operations perspective, you really need a match between approval dates and product read- iness. This allows for repeat review of manufacturing capacity and item packaging availabil- ity; this aspect of provisioning is twice as critical if company manufacturing is located far away.

For Andy Hodge, there is a critical need to focus on target audiences. He notes that, first, you need to define total figures for customer contacts. This includes breaking down audi- ences based on roles and work briefs: channel (medical teams), digital team, marketing, payers – insurance, salesforce, etc. Your business also needs to assess who are relevant thought leaders, specifically the numbers of those to be contacted prior to the launch, and then set targets for follow-up, i.e. determine their thoughts on (and views of) the product. The same applies to payers (reimbursement bodies) wherever possible.

Further KPIs include monitoring the number of scientific articles published about the product pre-launch and mapping regulatory milestones achieved: date of submission of product approval dossier, number of subsequent contacts with regulators, etc. Then, you need to monitor marketing deadlines and whether they have been met: market research, agreement on local messaging (also based on global positioning), marketing materials ready for distribution, etc.

Further targets and indicators to watch, as touched upon by Mr. Hodge, include goals set for your sales team. This also means putting in place training deadlines. Plus, after the launch, decisions should be taken on providing your salesforce guidance on whether to “go broad” or “go deep”. This relates to whether they need to contact as many targets as possi- ble in a short time (broad) or focus on a smaller number of targets and visit them frequently while providing detailed updates (deep).

It goes without saying, of course, that your Medical, Marketing and Senior Management teams need to be in the field post-launch: visiting customers and doing follow-up. Mr. Hodge also advises and recommends regular, repeat reviews of launch readiness. This includes formal meetings with the Launch Team at the 18-, 12-, 6- and 3-month pre-launch marks. It is advisable that the GM be present for all these meetings.


Our panel has, despite its seemingly Europe-heavy structure, worked in a wide range of markets. Below, they provide some insight on their personal work experience in various global sales geographies.

Jan Kirsten, for example, reports having found some key differences in global market cus- toms. In APAC, in a country like Japan, a lot of planning is necessary due to the sensitive needs of cultural and people organization. This makes that country unique in its region. Meanwhile, launch planning APAC has to be seen / considered in clusters in markets like Taiwan and South Korea it is more similar than Japan. Mr. Kirsten notes that one of his most exciting experience occurred in Japan: once you get a team there to the point of full preparation, they execute without fail. His most challenging experience came from a mature market trusting a weak organization that should have been restructured prior to launching cooperation.

For some other professional, a stronger relationship with KOLs is a more common key per- formance indicator outside the US. In Europe, the healthcare system is slower to adopt innovation; hence, getting KOLs on board is essential. There are also Access issues. In Europe, there is much more pressure on pricing and process access than there is in the US. Health persistence is different in the US, it is managed by private insurance conglomerates. In Europe, where the payers (reimbursement bodies) are public, there is a whole process to negotiate, i.e. providing HTA assessments, etc.

However, In Japan, the US and Germany, the launch is started once a business receives product approval and a price is set. In all other markets, you have to negotiate first. Exceptions include, for instance, France’s ATU: very innovative products can benefit from that coun- try’s early access program. In the Middle East, which is a distributor-led market, it is key to partner with the right distributors. These businesses hold a lot of power. The Israeli market is comparable to the US though.

Across most markets, files showing the benefits of a drug and its efficiency need a year for review and approval. However, in some cases, new pharmaceutical products can launch immediately based on an initial price (and without consequences for future reimbursement levels). In other countries, you need first to get approval for the product dossier and its final price, then you can start selling. This is the case in France (however, temporary approval from the ATU is possible, whenever no other treatment is available).

Processes in Germany are more systematic, as in CEE countries, where approvals are more ten- der(bid)-driven. In LATAM, there is no strict approval process per se and pharmaceutical companies can negotiate just about any price in their discussions with insurance compa- nies. This applies even in cases where no product is available; specifically, for treatment of rare diseases.

The North American market is sales-driven market. In that geography, direct advertisement to patients is possible and there is a huge, potential customer base. Medications are cen- trally approved (at the federal level) and tend to have the highest prices among global mar- kets.

Romain Périer offers some interesting insights on allergy treatments. He notes that physi- cians in the USA buy products in bulk from pharmaceutical companies and cover earnings from blending and commercial margins. This is different from Europe where laboratories sell the finished product to patients. For his company Stallergenes, France and Germany are the top two markets in terms of size; the US ranks third. Key markets in Asia include mainly China and Japan; however, they are small markets for allergy treatment and con- sumer medication costs are not reimbursed.

Vijay Zutshi, who works in the MEA region, faces a big challenge from the region’s poor healthcare systems. In most parts of Africa, drugs and medical treatments are paid for out of pocket. There are a few exceptions like the market in Algeria, or partial-reimbursement markets like Morocco and Tunisia. Mr. Zutshi has launched products in the Middle East (in about eleven countries), including introducing a biosimilar product with the help of a strong tendering/public procurement team with experts from the UAE and Saudi Arabia: 60% of sales in the Middle East involve tender-based business. As for the rest of the world, he remarks that Japan is a hybrid market and Western Europe is all about health economics.

Aurélien Breton sees that major differences are greatly linked to market size. Say, for example, there is a certain drug his laboratory sells for a volume of 1.5 million EUR in Bul- garia and 200 million EUR in France. Market analysis will automatically be deeper, teams larger and expertise higher in the latter country.

For Eric Bouyon, priorities are the same almost everywhere in Europe, which could be summarize in early recruitment, early customer relationship and early market access plan. He specifically mentions recruitment of experienced in Therapeutic Area as a key driver for success and launch preparation accelerator. In Europe, there are several different markets where consideration is different (national with or without additional local access negotiation at regional/Hospital level).

Marie Hélène Rhee recommends focusing on supply chain as much as possible in order to advance further in approval and launch processes: and ultimately overcome local con- straints. What really sets countries apart is the timing needed to gain market access. Regu- lation is very similar. In Europe, a laboratory needs to have a price. Without a price and without reimbursement, sales will remain low and likely only private insurers will cover costs. In the rest of the world, it is far more common to access markets before getting a reimbursement price.

The learning curve is stiff, when you have to launch a product within months. You need to digest and process a lot of data; sometimes, this can involve a whole new way of working. However, on the Tech Operations side, each product launch is very similar in the end. Upon her arrival at Ipsen, Ms. Rhee was surprised to learn that the company’s affiliates had completed no forecasts by the point twelve months prior to the Launch. Even though such projections are also done by companies’ Global HQs, she notes that local offices need to produce their own as well.

Andy Hodge believes the basics for running launches are widely the same across all mar- kets. He finds digital to have greater importance for Asian launches: this is perhaps because the marketing teams tend to be younger and less wedded to traditional ways of communications and messaging. This could also be because Asian customers tend to live online. He notes that access/reimbursement processes obviously vary a great deal between countries, so it is vital to have good pricing/access/reimbursement (PRA) programs in place. Specifically, you need people on the ground. He also points out that emerging market customer contacts tend to be more “relationship-driven” than in Europe. However, he con- cludes by pointing out that this is a big generalization and there are many exceptions.


Our panel has provided a lot of commentary and insight from their personal experiences with launches on numerous global markets. That is why we have listed below a set of top pieces of advice that we believe are valid and relevant no matter where your place of oper- ations or launch location may be.

  • Choose a qualified, motivating Launch Leader: invest time in selecting a team leader who can work across business departments and inspire launch team members to deliver their best work
  • Do your homework: make sure you have done all necessary market research, i.e. on potential market reach, sales volumes, supply chain delivery times, definition of rele- vant KPIs and KOLs. The better prepared you are, the smoother the launch will go. Plus, there is no such thing as starting too early.
  • Get partners (namely KOLs) on board: opinion leaders can have a big say in how your product is perceived on the market. They can also influence, even expedite, approval processes. Make sure they are on your side.
  • Define a clear strategy and set roles for Launch Team members: set clear KPIs, make sure team members understand their jobs and know their deadlines for input delivery.
  • Do careful follow-up: the job is not over once the launch is done. Communicate regularly with KOLs, customers and partner networks to gather feedback and adapt your company strategy to achieve continued, strong sales.

To find out more about SpenglerFox, our products and services, please visit our website www.spenglerfox.com and o not forget to follow us on our social media platforms.

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Eric Verney

Client Partner


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