Creating a new biopharmaceutical is no easy feat. You have to develop and test your drug, which may take years. You have to get your drug into clinical trials to see if it’s effective and safe. And then you need FDA approval. When you’re finally ready to launch your treatment, you may think the hard parts are over. But a successful drug launch—one that gets your drug in the hands of the patients who need it most—relies on a thoughtful strategy. Here are three tactics to use to ensure a successful drug launch.

1. Partner with a specialty pharmacy

In order for your biopharmaceutical to be successful, patients have to be able to access it and use it correctly. One way to meet these needs is by partnering with a specialty pharmacy early on. Brandon Tom discusses this in “Partnering with a Specialty Pharmacy to Improve Patient Outcomes.” Tom is the vice president of commercial services for McKesson Specialty Pharmacy Solutions. He notes that a specialty pharmacy can help with both pre- and post-dispense services.

Pre-dispense services typically have to do with patient access. A specialty pharmacy can help you with pre-dispense services such as benefits investigation, prior authorization and co-pay assistance. These things have the potential to make your biopharmaceutical more accessible and affordable for more people.

Post-dispense services focus on improving adherence and outcomes once patients actually receive your drug. Your specialty pharmacy partner can help with post-dispense services such as:

  • Patient education. Teaching patients the correct way to take your biopharmaceutical.
  • Adherence monitoring. Making sure patients start and stay on their treatment.
  • Patient monitoring. Working with patients to spot any clinical or financial issues.

Both pre- and post-dispense phases are critical to the success of your biopharmaceutical and patient outcomes. A specialty pharmacy can help you with both phases, ensuring your drug is more accessible to more people—and that the people who do use it see better health outcomes.

2. Shore up your data and analytics strategy

The biopharma market gets more competitive every year, and this is especially true for oncology drugs. To have a successful launch, you also need to keep your eye on the competition. Here’s one way: by getting more in-depth information on the key players involved in your drug commercialization. A solid data and analytics strategy can help here.

Derek Rago discusses this in “Why Data and Analytics Are Critical for Your Oncology Strategy.” Rago is the vice president and general manager of data, evidence and insights for McKesson Life Sciences. He notes that a solid data and analytics strategy gives you insights into three key players in your drug commercialization: patients, physicians and payers.

  • Patients. Your data can help you understand which patients will benefit the most from your drug. It can help you understand their biomarkers and other medical conditions, and how those factors might affect treatment.
  • Physicians. Data and analytics can tell you about the doctors who could potentially prescribe your drug. The data can help you understand their prescribing patterns, their practice profile, treatment preferences, and more.
  • Payers. Data can help you understand health plan coverage and reimbursement trends. This way, you can develop target-market access strategies that help lower the cost of your drug for patients.

The insights from your data and analytics can demonstrate the efficacy and value of your new therapy to payers and physicians. And they can help you take actions that lead to the best clinical outcomes for your patients.

3. Develop a thoughtful distribution strategy

Another key element of your drug launch is your distribution plan. If you don’t have a detailed plan for getting your drug to patients in a safe and timely manner, your treatment can’t help anyone. Kevin Kissling discusses this in “Prescribe Robust Distribution to Commercialize Your Orphan Drug.” Kissling is the vice president of 3PL operations for McKesson Life Sciences. He notes that orphan drugs and other specialty treatments require extra care when it comes to their distribution plan. This is because they often have specific temperature and packaging requirements. To keep your therapy safe and effective, your distribution plan should consider the following factors:

  • Patients. How many patients will benefit from your drug? You should be as exact as possible, especially if you’ve developed an orphan drug. Missing even a small number of patients can make a big difference.
  • Setting. Make sure your drugs get delivered to the proper setting. Where will your patients be treated most effectively? At home? At a specialty practice? This will help ensure your patients can start their treatment as soon as possible.
  • Handling. Many specialty drugs are fragile in their composition. They can be easily affected by sunlight, moisture and changing temperatures. Make sure your distribution plan includes details on the packaging, shipping and storage requirements that will keep your drug safe from the elements and stored at the temperature it needs to remain safe and effective.
  • Inventory. Orphan drugs and other biopharmaceuticals are typically costly. Because of this, keeping tight control over your inventory is crucial. You don’t want to manufacture too much of your drug and have excess. But you also don’t want to make too little and run into an unexpected shortage.
  • Ordering. You need to make access to your drug as easy as possible for those who will administer it. Make sure your distribution plan makes room for hospitals, specialty practices and other prescribers to order your drug easily and quickly.

When your biopharma company has a thoughtful distribution plan, you can rest assured that patients will get your drug at the right time in the right setting—and that it will retain its efficacy from shipment to administration.

You already know your new biopharmaceutical has the potential to change people’s lives. Now it’s time to plan a strategic launch that ensures that will happen. By using the three tactics above, your new drug can help as many patients as possible and bring about commercial and clinical success.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s distribution services for pharmaceutical manufacturers

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