Best Practices in Structuring & Managing Early-Stage Commercialization Groups


The success of a pharmaceutical organization’s pipeline is often linked to the effectiveness of its new product commercialization function. Despite this, there is no consensus on what separates an effective early-stage commercialization group from an ineffective one. While the success factors for early-stage commercialization groups are still fairly misunderstood, there are some best practices that leaders in the pharmaceutical & biotech industries have identified when structuring and managing early-stage commercialization efforts.

Three of the areas that benchmark partners in a Best Practices’ study identified as essential for a successful early-stage commercialization group included:

  1. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Successful pharmaceutical product development demands a cross-functional approach, beginning in the earliest, pre-clinical stages. Early-stage commercialization (ESC) groups typically serve on teams with R&D, Medical Affairs, Regulatory, Legal, Clinical, Manufacturing, and other professionals. How companies structure their early-stage development teams can depend heavily on a company’s corporate value and mission.
  2. Lifecycle Management: Lifecycle management has emerged as a critical new skill in the hands of early-stage marketers. More than ever, early-stage marketers are seeking to evaluate the full potential of new and existing products.
  3. Structure: A large majority of the benchmark class mentioned that they have a designated group responsible for overseeing the commercialization of drug candidates early in the development process. The also mentioned that that group nearly always has global responsibility for the ESC process. Although early stage commercialization staff work closely with R&D, the organization most often reports to a commercial function.

The early-stage commercialization function is essential for the development process within pharmaceutical organizations. Leading companies are now integrating commercial insights earlier and earlier into the new product process in an effort to identify and target promising compounds, reduce development cycle time, focus resources for greatest impact and increase their potential for launching a blockbuster drug. Observing how other leaders have successfully structured and managed their ESC groups can provide commercialization leaders with a blue-print for success.

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