Competitive intelligence for the pharmaceutical industry

What competitive intelligence strategies do we prescribe for pharmaceutical companies?

Drug development is a high-risk business. According to Forbes, in 2010 the cost of developing a drug ranged from $4 billion to $11 billion. Many drugs do not actually get as far as the pharmacies, as they are not approved by the relevant government-appointed boards. With such large amounts of money riding on a result, and so many potential pitfalls, investing in investigation is surely essential. If ever there was an industry where it’s vital to stay ahead of the competition, pharmaceuticals is surely that industry.

The larger pharmaceutical companies own all stages of the process, from drug discovery and development right through to marketing and sales. This means that the competitive intelligence they require is wide-ranging, and needed at every step of the drug’s pathway to the dispensary.

What’s in the lab?

It’s important to get as much intelligence as possible at the early drug discovery stage.

We can look into any new factory constructions, or upgrades to existing premises. Are the competitors importing any ingredients that would provide new product intelligence? Are they recruiting specific skills?

Related to this, which organisations do they work in partnership with? We would also look into their activities to spot any indications of a new product.

Plotting the product pipeline

In such a competitive industry, knowing your competitors’ product pipelines is an absolute survival essential. We predict and track their routes to new product launch. The fact that this industry is so strictly regulated works in our favor. A look through regulatory filings can reap rewards, and we will look into clinical trial results. Are there any patent applications?

This is an industry that thrives on conferences and trade shows. We can find out what the main players are talking about and get an idea of their marketing messages. Are they marketing to medics or the public or both? Is there anything in healthcare journals?

The movement of staff can also indicate what stage of the pipeline the product is at.

Locating the talent

Who is working for your competitors? Taking a drug from discovery to buyers requires a lot of skilled employees. From chemists to medical sales reps, this is an industry that needs talent.

LinkedIn, specialist recruitment agencies, head-hunting agencies, graduate fairs and current and former employees can all help to create a picture of the skills a company employs. An insight into the organisation’s structure can help us understand the product pipeline: have they recently expanded any specific departments, such as the engineering or marketing workforces? Are they recruiting in a specific or new geographical area?

What does the medical profession think?

What do they think at the sharp end? We talk to hospitals and medical practitioners about your competitors’ products, and speak to buyers about both products and sales techniques. This is a great chance to carry out some in-depth qualitative research. Getting in touch with patient groups also provides some essential insights. Information about pricing, marketing message, and client perception can all be obtained through this work with the purchasers and end users.

That was a quick overview of competitive intelligence in a very large and complex area. We’ve worked with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies (as well as some smaller ones – they need information advantage too!), so are ideally placed to provide intelligence about this industry.  Contact us to discuss how we can help you stay ahead of the competition.