Client politics a test of vendor diplomacy skills

Pharma clinical development and product commercialization teams should align around bringing a new drug to market. Yet too often, internal politics interfere with clinical trials, labeling and publication strategy decisions.

“The challenge involves getting marketing and clinical together early to hash out these things,” said Debbie Kossman, PhD, SVP, healthcare practice, National Analysts Worldwide.

When working with clients, pharmaceutical marketing research vendors often need to be as much therapist as industry expert, she said. Kossman presented as a success story her experience working with Amgen on the clinical trial design of the biotech's Kepivance (palifermin), a biologic for treating oral mucositis approved in 2004.

NAW provided an overview of views and treatment practices for mucositis as well as an evaluation of palifermin's therapeutic value. Meanwhile, clinical development and marketing articulated questions for KOL interviews.

Amgen's internal culture was not so political. “Today we have an integrated, cross-functional team that really monitors an asset all through the development process,” said John Meyers, Amgen executive director, business analysis and information.

However, not all companies are as harmonious. Senior management would be well-served to work out the development-commercial divide.

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