As the number of new drug product launches increases and the market becomes ever more competitive, pharmaceutical manufacturers and retailers need to work together in order to find common ground and share success, according to a new report which has been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and published by the US National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS).

“Both manufacturers and retailers rely on new product launches to drive growth and help them stand out in a crowded market, yet launches are often hindered by misunderstandings regarding each partner’s expectations, abilities and timetables, threatening revenue generation and profitability,” says Lisa Feigen Dugal, partner and leader of the North American Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods Advisory practice at PwC.

According to the study authors, the following four steps will provide a reliable roadmap to help manufacturers and retailers drive growth and market differentiation:

– understand: trading partners must eliminate preconceived notions about each other and establish a joint definition of launch success beyond purely sales and volume targets;

– commit and collaborate: they need to establish detailed milestones and success criteria and assign specific responsibility and accountability for each element;

– execute: partners must provide transparency to potential launch issues and develop contingency planning in advance for likely scenarios, in order to avoid overreacting to expected events; and

– review: sales performance is not the only measure of success - devoting time to post-launch analysis establishes a common perception of the launch effectiveness, says the study, which quotes one retailer as saying: “we need to migrate away from the ‘launch ‘em and leave ‘em’ method of today.”

“The goal of this framework is to provide specific areas in which trading partners can focus their efforts, ensuring that they are investing their time and resources in the dimensions that will have the greatest impact on launch outcomes,” says PwC partner Matthew Gunbie. “Improving understanding between all parties involved in the launch will create a sustainable and agile trading relationship that enables better utilisation of both partners’ resources and increases the likelihood of launch success,” he adds.

“Retailers’ and suppliers’ collaboration in executing these findings within their organisations will help to improve efficiency and effectiveness of all future new product launches,” commented Vic Mazzacone, senior vice president Corporate Relations OTC North America at Novartis Consumer Health and a member of the NACDS Advisory Board.