Anthony Murabito, Vice President Information at Wave Life Sciences, is a global pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive with over thirty-five years of leadership and technology experience.
From boxes of documents being loaded on a tractor trailer truck to cloud-based data hubs, you could argue that I have witnessed significant change over the past 40 years within pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Every stage—R&D, preclinical, clinical trials, commercial, etc.—has undergone massive transformation with how data and information is handled, stored and utilized.
In this post, I will focus on translating data insights into action. Specifically, I will share an example while at a bio-pharmaceutical company when our team built a complete sales model that provided game changing product and market insights during the commercial stage of a new product.
Building a model for market insight
When I was hired as the Head of IT for a bio-pharmaceutical company we were in the midst of launching an antibiotic used for treating serious bacterial infections. We were confident we had a promising product and opportunity to gain significant market share. But being an antibiotic, hospitals did not normally order the drug until they had a patient that used it—especially expensive products.
In order to succeed, we needed timely, end-to-end visibility of our product—where it was going and who was buying it. Our experienced leadership team knew this data already existed since our third-party logistics (3PL) provider handled all our order management and fulfillment. We just needed to create a system to exploit the data.
To access the information in a timely fashion, we directed our 3PL to run a daily report at midnight of all the sales we made the previous day. The report contained a complete list of hospitals, facilities, quantities, etc. The data also revealed the drug was being taken up in areas outside of our target list, enabling us to understand areas beyond indications. Next, we sliced the information by territory and sent it to our sales representatives by 6:15 a.m. The business impact of the information was quickly recognized all the way to the C-suite. If reports were not delivered, IT knew the phone would ring!
Capitalizing on competitor challenges
Despite our invaluable marketplace insights, we were still battling a very large competitor with a similar antibiotic that was available as both oral and IV. Even though their product was a bit more expensive, they are a giant in the industry and could easily move their patients from IV into oral.
Fortunately for us (unfortunately for them), our competitor experienced major manufacturing problems and ran out of drug for six months. Knowing we had created a great sales model that gave us insights into where our sales were going, we decided to utilize the system to understand our competitor’s activity. We obtained the previous six months of our competitor’s data (purchased commercially), plugged the information into our system, sliced it up and sent it to our sales reps. Even though the data was 30 days old, it still provided actionable insights. With a clear understanding of who was purchasing our competitor’s drug and the fact that it was unavailable due to manufacturing issues, our team could offer our drug.
From data to insights to $
Actionable insights derived from sales data coupled with six months of competitor downtime enabled the company to gain a foothold in the marketplace. The company’s success later translated into an impressive valuation and eventual sale to Merck for billions of dollars.