What Matters Most in Biopharma Commercial Success?

By Ulrik Schulze and Michael Ringel

Declining productivity in research and development (R&D) is one of the biggest challenges that the pharma industry faces. Coupled with increased competition in crowded therapeutic areas and the ever-changing reimbursement environment, this decline leaves industry leaders increasingly looking for markers that can distinguish between commercial success and failure for those drugs that do reach the market.

Given that it is common for several companies to pursue promising new targets simultaneously, one fundamental strategic question is: Is it better to be first to market or best in a particular new class of drugs? Historically, we have seen that “best” is as good as being “first,” but recent analysis from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) indicates that this is less so now.

To address the question of pursing a late entrant drug, BCG quantified the relationship among three variables: timing of market entry, therapeutic advantage, and commercial success. The resulting findings—published in the June 2013 issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery—articulate what matters most in commercial success.