2018 Pharma CI Europe Post-Conference Recap

Fletcher/CSI exhibited at Pharma CI Europe 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal between February 27-28, 2018, and presented Drug Delivery Systems – Understanding the Competitive Landscape. This annual event, which we’ve attended since its founding, is an important conference for business analysts and managers that work in a commercial insights or competitive intelligence function. After collaborating with over 100 pharmaceutical attendees through interactive sessions and delivering our presentation on medical devices, a few apparent themes emerged.

Pharmaceutical Industry Innovations

The opening keynote, delivered by Michael Pröschel, Head Northern Europe, Vifor Pharma, discussed some of the anticipated changes that the pharmaceutical industry will face over the next 2-3 years. Pharma, with its traditionally slow pace of product innovation, is beginning to converge with Silicon Valley, and its ultra-fast innovation cycles. Michael challenged attendees to think “beyond the pill” as competitive landscapes can fundamentally change instantly, especially with an increased use of data and analytics. He also reported that major pharma players are investing more in digital solutions, such as fitness trackers and high-end biosensors for diagnostics. For example, Roche invested in the Austrian startup mySugr, and has pioneered a leading open platform for digital diabetes management. While mySugr will run as a separate legal entity, it will become an integral part of Roche’s new patient-centered digital health services within diabetes care.

Drug Delivery Systems Competitive Landscape

Fletcher/CSI’s presentation, delivered by Cinda Steele, SVP, Life Sciences, highlighted that the drug delivery competitive landscape is evolving so that innovative devices (e.g. autoinjectors and smart pills) can better meet patient’s needs. Companies must find a balance between device affordability and ensuring that patients can experience fewer injections and quick delivery times, feel comfortable with device features, easily track medication regimens, and avoid adverse reactions. Devices that meet the criteria can gain competitive advantage because they will be preferred over products with poorer functionality. On average, the timeline between device discovery and launch is three-to-five years, so it is critical for manufacturers to monitor their competitive landscapes throughout the entire development process. Additionally, in the EU, a new medical directive expected to be in place in 2020 and will make the regulatory process more challenging with strict approval criteria, greater focus on clinical trials, new classifications, and other features. Market monitoring, secondary searches, primary research, trade show intelligence, and strategy workshops are effective strategies to learn insights about the landscape and gain competitive advantage, especially when regulatory changes occur.

CI’s Influence on Strategy and Value Justification

Jennifer Cummins, Director of MR and CI for Vifor Pharma, chaired a lively debate about how intelligence can influence strategic planning and how to justify the investment required for a successful CI operation. Dr. Alfred Reszka, Executive Director and Head, Strategic Business Intelligence, Merck, shared insights about how the reporting mechanism and organizational structure is critical to his company’s success. He also shared some details about how various unpredicted but happy consequences occurred for Merck after its acquisition of Schering Plough and adoption of Keytruda. CI can help predict the unpredictable. One delegate explained that the current intelligence “kill and exit” strategy can result in earlier product development decisions and millions of saved dollars. The intelligence function can add significant value through time compression to decision making and deliver critical information that isn’t available through secondary sources. In order for CI to have the greatest impact on an organization, it must play a role early in the strategy process.

Relationship between Market Research (MR) and Competitive Intelligence (CI)  

An interactive roundtable, The Best of Enemies, covered the relationship between the disciplines of MR and CI. Each attendee was asked if the departments within their corporations were siloed, integrated, or semi-integrated, and how they support the needs of their internal stakeholders and decision makers. Attendees agreed that both MR and CI are important tools depending on the specific challenges at decisions being considered. However, there can be intrinsic bias toward one methodology or the other depending upon the training and history of individual analysts. Evidence shows that the greatest insights and most valuable intelligence can be gained by encouraging teams from different silos to collaborate, be more creative, and step away from traditional comfort zones. One attendee reported that the term “competitive intelligence” can raise internal concerns and ethical questions. Gordon Donkin, Head of EU Office, Fletcher/CSI, explained that the intelligence cycle and CI should be seen as a critical landscaping tool to make sure organizations have the best internal intelligence to become more competitive.  

CI Challenge Exercise

On day two, the delegates were divided into teams to compete and solve a CI challenge. Healthy discussion was fueled by collaboration and competition between the participants. The group consensus was unsurprising. In order to create and maintain a competitive and leadership position, all organizations, irrespective of size, need to constantly challenge their market access assumptions, monitor blind-spots, and creatively define their go-to-market plans based on true and up-to-date insights. The critical insights are gained through current, valuable, and accurate competitive and market intelligence.

For more information about Pharma CI Europe or how Fletcher/CSI can support your strategic business needs, please reach out to us or visit our website @ www.fletchercsi.com. Contact Cinda Steele @ [email protected] or 610-496-0080 for U.S. questions or  Gordon Donkin @ [email protected] or 44 7711 056661 for EU inquiries.