Perhaps one of the most challenging tasks facing Pharmaceutical Marketing and Sales teams is the accurate forecasting of potential sales of newly approved drugs.
This quite imprecise science is, however, an essential element in the whole operational and commercial planning mechanism. Getting it wrong can have serious financial consequences and demand the refocusing of the portfolio management strategy. In a startling and revealing report, "The Industry's Brightest Hopes: Where Are They Now?" published by EP Vantage, the London based, award* winning team of Journalists, we learn just how accurate – or inaccurate, some of those predictions have been, particularly when some have been expected to be ‘Blockbusters’.
approved drugs from the point of launch and compared these numbers to actual performance. The report identifies those products which have significantly underperformed and those that have gone way beyond expectations in terms of predicted sales. One of the worst sales versus forecasts ratios for a new anticipated blockbuster was Pfizer’s gastrointestinal drug, Relistor. With sales of only $37million against a projected $865million for the same period, the forecast was 96% adrift. Intermune’s Esbriet, indicated for pulmonary fibrosis, was close behind with revenues of $785million below forecast, or 86% below plan. Incivek, Vertex’ Hepatitis C medication, performed little better with a shortfall of $3.4billion. The top 10 underperformers collectively returned under-forecast performances totalling $15.2billion, equivalent to 73% below forecast.
Fortunately for the industry, there are some very positive examples of new drugs which have significantly outperformed their bullish forecasts. Leading the field in these successful launches is Gilead’s HIV drug, Stribild which, as a consequence of significant sales returns, is now showing a potential of $2.39billion against an original forecast of $0.84billion. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s monoclonal antibody for melanoma, follows Stribild with new projections of $1.56billion based on sales performance as against an original expectation of $0.87billion. A similar over-performance of 76% is granted to another monoclonal – Perjeta, indicated in combination with trastuzumab and docetaxel for the treatment of patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. The therapy is now estimated to achieve sales of $1.89billion as against original tentative predictions of $1.07.
The top 10 over-performers didn’t quite manage to wipe out the deficit created by the underperformers. Collectively they are now credited with enhanced sales projections $5.78billion above initial aspirations of $11.96billion.
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* European Mediscience Awards, 2011