The 4 Knows of a Drug Launch Officer

The changing health care landscape requires innovative, data-driven approaches to drug launches. The one-size-fits all approach to launching a blockbuster drug every other year is now giving way to smaller, more frequent tailored launches of pipeline drugs.

An analysis by Bain & Company found that half of all launches did not meet expected levels during peak sales, and half of those missed expectations by 50 percent or more. With more launches, creating a chief launch officer with a dedicated team is essential. Companies that use what Bain terms a “Launch Factory” approach can provide a structured approach to overseeing five to 10 successful launches every year.

What is the role of a drug launch officer?

A drug launch officer’s primary role is to help the company navigate this new world of tailored approaches and develop innovative strategies to compete in a market faced with increasing access restrictions and cost containment efforts. Mining, understanding and leveraging data are what will drive launches and the launch officer in the coming years.

1. Secure access to data sources.

A report by McKinsey suggests pharmaceutical companies should develop relationships with payers, hospitals, providers, and others to secure access to information and help them mine data. The launch officer could be in a position to help build those relationships and offer tools to analyze vast troves of valuable patient and prescriber information.

2. Leverage Big Data.

The launch team reviews analytics from claims, clinical data and even social media. Accurately leveraging data of prescriber behavior, payer information and patient profiles will be key to developing multiple smaller, tailored launches, which, according to McKinsey, is the way of the future.

3. Lead the launch team.

A successful Launch Factory includes an executive level launch officer, marketing experts, and launch experts. Bain suggests keeping the team active for about 18 months before and after launch.

4. Be flexible.

So much data available is near real-time. The launch officer needs to be flexible and able to adapt the launch strategy to new information and guide the team through changes. Having data in real-time offers little benefit without the ability to adjust the plan.

Gathering, analyzing and applying such vast amounts of data can be overwhelming, but many tools are available to make it easier. Verix offers ready-to-launch analytics solutions that cover the entire commercial operations spectrum and can support a drug launch officer throughout the process.

In light of this, what other responsibilities do you believe a drug launch officer may have?


Kunst M., Natanek R., Plantevin L., Eliades G. [Internet] 2013 June 5. Available from:

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