Tackling Portfolio Expansion Hurdles in Life Sciences


In a fast-growing biotech, how does data and information present as a risk and opportunity? To tackle this question, Chris Jennings moderated a panel discussion with biotech industry experts Jackie Fernandes, Jennifer Heckman and Anthony Murabito.

Chris Jennings

There are plenty of challenges related to portfolio expansion—adding a second product, third product, new indication or new therapeutic area. Can you explain some of those challenges and hurdles while working for companies that expanded their portfolios?  

Tony Murabito answered the question with practical advice: “As IT leaders, we need to be absolutely disciplined. And you literally want to build ‘just in time.’” He cautioned the group not to over build and shared examples of companies that built beautiful multi-million-dollar commercial infrastructures and ended up not getting approval. And commercial infrastructures are hard to adapt to a research organization. Tony recognized the stress this approach puts on the IT organization, but emphasized the value of developing just in time versus over building.  

Jackie Fernandes added her experience when working with a growing number of brand teams. Because they're in a siloed work structure, they don't always know what information already exists within the organization. She promoted the idea of elevating data transparency within commercial organizations by sharing information across teams and functions. Jackie followed up with how this practice helps avoid data duplication and going after the same KOL multiple times, for example. Additionally, Jackie shared why it’s a necessity to be specific when engaging with individuals, especially in the EU. From a compliance perspective as it relates to privacy, you can't just lump 50 reasons on a page and ask for consent to talk about what you do. She cautioned people will say no, and have the right to say no. In the end, it becomes an opportunity lost for the company to gain valuable information. In conclusion, Jackie agreed with Tony’s approach of building just in time, but also encouraged companies to elevate data transparency and its use so teams aren’t being inefficient when trying to get their work done.  

In agreement with Tony and Jackie, Jen Heckman shared how her current company’s digital transformation group has a great inventory of all external vendors that are a data source. Before trying to bring something in, you need to find out what the company might already have. Jen noted everyone wants to be nimble, but having this layer actually builds efficiency and prevents duplicate effort.  

Chris Jennings closed out the segment sharing an early-career experience working in commercial for a large pharmaceutical company undergoing a large portfolio expansion. The project’s focus was to uncover data duplication. Not only was the company buying $6 million in duplicate data, but it was also the exact same dataset from the exact same vendor!

To view and navigate to all the topics covered by this panel, head to Blog Series Introduction: Data as a Risk and Opportunity.