I come to IntegriChain from years in pharmaceutical consulting, helping brands be more successful from a sales and marketing perspective. For any healthcare supplier, product launches bring a lot of excitement within the organization and with that comes the corresponding stress. There is significant work to be done pre-launch: from defining the market, creating a vision for the brand, identifying leverage points, prioritizing stakeholders, and segmenting the market to creating a value proposition for the brand, creating positioning, messaging, and a go-to-market model, and identifying metrics that will track whether the launch was successful. There is tremendous pressure to get it right and maximize the launch.

Reality Check 1: Only 50% of pharmacies are stocked at launch
One of the biggest disconnects between trade and brand (sales and marketing) teams from a pharmacy launch stocking perspective is that brand teams think that 90-95% of pharmacies are stocked at launch. In reality, only 50% to at most 60% of pharmacies are stocked at launch.

This begs the question as to why only 50% of pharmacies are stocked at launch. In reality, the concept of “stuffing” the channel has become outdated. Many suppliers are striving to find ways to increase revenue by maximizing prescribing and product availability yet decreasing costs with lowering product returns specifically product returned for destruction. In other words, you want to ensure that at launch your product is available at the pharmacy that is most likely to get a prescription while avoiding those that are most likely to return unsold product for destruction after the 90 day shelf sweep.

Reality Check 2: Sending reps to pharmacies to check ongoing stocking levels can get expensive
Back in my consulting days, I worked with brand teams to help create launch strategies, and in many situations there was a big focus on strategies around sales reps who were armed with information, training, incentives, and call plans to sell the product. Quite often, however, it takes three to six months for an early adopter primary care physician to try a new product. This means a rep has to make at least six to eight calls to the physician even before the first prescription is written. There are only 15 to 20% early adopters in any given market, which means there is significantly more effort required to convince the other prescribers to adopt the new product.

What the rep might not realize is that the sale is not complete until the prescription is fulfilled at a pharmacy. How do pharmaceutical companies ensure that all this effort is not wasted and the product is available at the pharmacy when the patient comes in with a prescription? One way to do this is to send reps to pharmacies on a regular basis to check on stocking levels, but this method can get really expensive in the long run. Besides, it might be a better use of the reps’ time to send them to a subset of pharmacies that need their attention.

Reality Check 3: Relying only on syndicated Rx data can be risky
Another disconnect often is that brand teams feel that they have visibility to the product sold to a point of care through the syndicated Rx data they buy from major data aggregators. As most brand teams buy several data sources, they feel that they actually have this visibility to product movement to a point of care. For creating a launch stocking plan, it may be possible to stock pharmacies around top prescribers based on syndicated Rx data although there is a high risk of product returns from low value pharmacies around those high prescribers.

How IntegriChain Adds Value to Launch

Identify key pharmacies to stock at launch
Brand teams and their partners use IntegriChain’s benchmark data and launch monitoring applications to optimize product launch stocking. Before launch, Brand and National Account teams use IntegriChain to build targeted stocking plans that align with the forecast and commercialization plan.

Ensure product availability in the pharmacy
IntegriChain provides solutions that help pharmaceutical companies get un-blinded and unblocked visibility to their product movement down to a pharmacy. This way they can monitor daily stocking levels at downstream pharmacies by monitoring when the pharmacy ordered its product and how much.

IntegriChain also provides a cheaper and efficient way to manage 852 data that major trade partners, specialty distributors, and specialty pharmacies provide to pharmaceutical companies. 852 data provides visibility to product inventory levels at the distribution centers that are responsible to service a set of downstream pharmacies. This provides an opportunity to proactively monitor inventory levels at distribution centers servicing key pharmacies so that the product is at least 24 hours away from the pharmacy and to correct stocking and distribution issues before they lead to lost sales to the end consumer.

Gauging daily stocking levels at a pharmacy helps inform MDs
With any product, there is a risk of prescription abandonment, although e-prescribing has reduced this risk considerably as many patients would wait for the pharmacy to call them when the prescription-fill is ready for pickup. In chronic markets, patients may not want to wait 24 hours for the product. IntegriChain also provides a solution to help reps inform physicians on the pharmacies around them where the product is available so they are able to send the prescription to a pharmacy that is likely to have the product on shelf.

Tags: ,

About the Author

Tisha Agarwal

Tisha Agarwal

Customer Success