Roadmap For Product Management In The Pharmaceutical Industry

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When a new business owner gets into the thrilling journey of entering the pharma industry, effective product management plays a very important role in shaping his brand. According to a statistic over 62% of pharmaceutical product launches get delayed. So, a well-designed product ideation strategy plays a very crucial role. Visualize this journey through an interesting story of Vedant where every decision
made by him, a new business owner impacts and molds the narrative of product management in
the pharmaceutical industry.

Main problem in product management in the pharmaceutical industry:

After working as a product manager for a long time, I was keen on understanding the intricacies of every
industry and their journey in managing their product. But I never had the opportunity to work with any
pharma industry. But luckily my college friend Vedant wanted to start his new venture in the pharmaceutical industry. So, he approached me for help. Before designing the plan for the entire life cycle of the product we need to understand the main problem that the industry is facing. So, I asked the same question from Vedant for his target industry.

Vedant replied, “The main challenge in product management in the pharmaceutical industry is strict
regulations set by the FDA, which create a complex environment for product managers. We have to meet
compliance standards, ensuring the safety of products. Continuous evolving regulatory requirements pose the biggest challenges throughout the product lifecycle. This leads to delays and high costs. So, a high need for strategic planning to bring pharma products to market arises.”

The beginning: ideation stage in the pharmaceutical industry:

I asked Vedant, “Why do you want to enter in pharmaceutical industry?”

Vedant replied that One day he observed the grandmother of his friend struggling with traditional inhalers. After looking at her situation he envisioned a device that could help patients to overcome the challenges they faced by using current respiratory therapy devices.

So, I decided to work with his team- engineers, designers, and patient advocates. Through our brainstorming session, we explored wide ideas for improved inhaler design along with incorporating smart technology for the convenience of patients.

Product management in the pharmaceutical industry starts with user-centered design. So, proper market analysis and trends play a very crucial role in product management in the pharmaceutical industry. We conducted interviews with patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to learn about the pain points. We did sequential monadic testing to reach our conclusion for a simplified and comfortable device design.

The major requirement of the patients was that the device must provide real-time feedback along with medication. The inclusion of a dose tracker, inhalation technique guidance, and connectivity to a mobile app, became important elements of the device.

As ideation continued, our team also focused on regulatory experts to make sure that the device would meet all safety standards.

Prototyping and iteration:

We moved to the prototyping phase along with sketches, and 3D models. We created physical prototypes that helped us to test the function of the device, ergonomics, and overall use. Iterations played a crucial role and each version brought us closer to the perfect respiratory therapy device

Choosing the correct propellant is critical in balancing factors such as environmental impact, safety, and compatibility with the medicine used.

At VESTA BUSINESS STUDIOS we help you in ideating and finalizing your passion along with complete support for market research and prototype building.

Product development phases:

For product management in the pharmaceutical industry manufacturing along with clinical validation and testing is very important. We surveyed different companies like SPARC, WIPRO GE HEALTHCARE, TRIVITRON HEALTHCARE, etc., and chose one of them. Proper evaluation of potential partners based on their capabilities, quality control measures, and compliance with regulatory standards is very important.

Iterative refinement of manufacturing processes and continuous improvement based on feedback from the production team and performance metrics helped us to reduce cost and enhance scalability.

Vedant was really satisfied with the entire product lifecycle journey that we have gone through till now. He asked me to share the product just with known doctors.

I replied, “Supply chain mapping to identify key components, materials, and possible risks along with diversification of suppliers is very crucial to lessen the impact of possible disruption. Choosing suppliers based on quality and validation of component sources plays a key role in product management in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Logistic and distribution planning which includes a selection of transportation mode, distribution channels (medical equipment distributors), warehouse management to optimize inventory storage, development of reverse logistics system to manage product returns and replacement, quality assurance in transportation to ensure delivery of device in optimal condition and packaging compliance which includes clear instructions for easy identification and handling of the device, is very important in the management of a product.

Product launch strategy:

The 4Ps of marketing i.e. promotion, place, price, and product are very essential in product management in the pharmaceutical industry to create awareness, accessibility, affordability, and acceptability of our startup in the market. All these 4Ps must be aligned in creating value as shown by us in our product positioning.

Vesta Business Studios helps you position your product in the market with in-depth market research and answers to questionnaires from the sample audience. We organized different awareness programs and gave knowledge of our product to customers. We made sure easy accessibility of our product to customers by collaborating with many clinics. Our product was already designed in a way to interact with the patients through online applications. Along with this, we provided 24-hour support to our customers for a better experience. We made sure that we got proper feedback from customers and doctors for our product so that we could build a trust factor with customers. These steps helped us a lot to stand as a brand in the market.

One of our team members Prateek asked me a few questions related to market trends. Here are those questions and my replies.

Prateek: What type of customers must be focused on?

Me: Avoid customers of low value who are very price sensitive and focus on those customers who matter the quality irrespective of prices and make more purchases.

Prateek: How to create more sales?

Me: Integrate the sales funnel with the retention strategy for optimum sales.

Prateek: How to convince distributors?

Me: Present a better value proposition to the distributors to increase your shelf view. Because ultimately distributors are the ones who sell our products to customers.

Vedant was thoroughly enjoying the entire process. He was passionate about the pharmaceutical industry and was very keen to know in detail about product management in the pharmaceutical industry. He wanted to know about the skill sets of product management in the pharmaceutical industry.

So I replied to him that skills like:

  1. Knowledge of product
  2. Creativity and analytical skills
  3. Competitor SWOT analysis
  4. Market research
  5. Good communication skills
  6. Ability to work with cross-functional teams
  7. Building efficient team
  8. Tools to forecast
  9. Sales management

It is really important to successfully launch the product and create a good and reputed brand.

The main role of product management in the pharmaceutical industry is to handle the medicines that the company already sells, create product knowledge and trust in customers, and also plan new devices and medicine launches. They also develop strategies for medicines that are in the development process and ensure their proper execution.

Long-term marketing roadmap:

Once we were in the market, it was really important to survive in the market for the long term. So, our team made long-term marketing plans and this will be executed over time and need.

  1. Continuous market monitoring by analyzing market trends and competitor activities. Also focusing on regulatory changes and adopting strategies accordingly.
  2. Different engagement programs for customers to build a loyal community and get feedback.
  3. Proper surveillance after launch to monitor product performance, safety, and customer satisfaction.
  4. Continuous awareness program to educate about the importance of proper respiratory health and the importance of good therapy.
  5. Partnering strategically for expansion.
  6. Global expansion based on cultural nuances.
  7. Support programs for patients to provide them with the proper guidance.
  8. Innovation and improvement to sustain market trends.
  9. Having contingency planning for unforeseen threats.
  10. Financial planning and forecasting to ensure sustainable growth and resource allocations.

The product is going well in the market. I have assured Vedant that help him always in his future product launches. But many questions arise in mind about the role of a product manager and how a product manager should be. I am sure you might have read about it in various textbooks or on the internet. But I am going to share my practical experience about what should be the actual role of product managers and how should design a framework for the project that he is working on especially product management in the pharmaceutical industry.

Role of the Product Manager:

  1. Never consider yourself as CEO of the company: The biggest mistake any product manager can make is considering himself as CEO. You must be very clear with the situation that you have to work for the CEO and you have to manage your team very well.
  2. Product knowledge is the key: without in-depth knowledge of the product, you cannot move forward. Always consider your target industry as a challenge and always be ready to grab the most of the knowledge in that industry. Try to break the product and its entire mechanism into layers and keep studying it. For product management in the pharmaceutical industry, you must know every detail of the product. In my case, I learned from basics about what is respiration. How do different devices work for different respiratory therapies? How does my target product work? What materials must be used to make it? What are the different components of the device? Since the device could be connected with an online app, I even learned how apps must be made. How do coders design it? So on and so forth.
  3. Know the entire cycle of a product: here comes the major issue. Product managers just order the team members including the marketing person, sales person, and operations team without knowing how that particular segment works. As a product manager, u must have the basic knowledge of sales, marketing, and operations to create the best synchronization with the team.
  4. Never take any step without testing: even if the product is at the ideation stage, you must encourage concept testing. If you have launched MVP still proper testing is the key to further iterations. If you are applying some growth hacking technique, then test it for small audiences. learn the ART OF TESTING. For product management in the pharmaceutical industry, you must check all compliances and have proper testing of each phase from doctors or concerned authorities.
  5. Learning is the key: always keep reading and learning about all the companies that have already been successful in your industry and try to understand minutely the steps taken by them in their entire product life cycle.

Conclusion

Product management in the pharmaceutical industry is the most challenging. You must always make sure that the product is following all standards, especially FDI standards, and must be authenticated by doctors. Always test the concept with concerned authorities and make iterations in your product. If you are outsourcing any company for manufacturing, it must be properly checked if those manufacturing units follow all the standards. After taking into consideration all these things, you must move to the product development stage. Supply chain management is the core of product management in the pharmaceutical industry. If you build good trust then the supply of product plays a key role. But everything encapsulates to one single base, PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE.