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August 18, 2014
Comments from the C-Suite Reveal Pharmaceutical Industry Priorities
By: Phil Davis

As mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the life sciences industry continue to dominate the headlines, what is keeping life sciences executives awake at night? Where are they placing their bets to achieve growth and/or operational improvement? And what are the common priorities across the life sciences industry today?

Based on recent investor communications and published interviews with C-suite executives from more than 20 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, there is a core set of strategic imperatives that is driving the C-Suite agenda. These include:

  • Commercial success for key brands – Pharmaceutical companies are focused on supporting their in-market key brands to maximize revenue growth, profitability and longevity in an increasingly competitive and crowded market.

  • Product launch excellence – There is continued emphasis on breakthrough science successfully delivering new product launches. This includes building sales and marketing capabilities to enter new therapy areas, accelerating product uptake, and demonstrating differentiated outcomes and value with payers.

  • Cost take-out – Cost reduction and operating efficiency have returned as key priorities with companies seeking to better balance their operations to meet the reality of the “New Normal” post the patent cliff. Some companies are prioritizing transformative shifts in IT or shared service models.
  • Emerging markets – Companies continue to focus strategically on growth in emerging markets although they are increasingly being challenged on price and competitiveness. Companies are investing in flexible operating models and the right product portfolio tailored to different local market dynamics. However, interestingly not all companies are prioritizing emerging markets and are choosing to focus more on areas such as product launch excellence, key brand support and operating efficiency.
  • Agile growth agenda – There is a significant increase in companies announcing that they are looking into mergers and acquisitions or divestment plans. Their goal is to refine their businesses to build dominant positions in fewer key focus areas, provide access to the best external innovations, and/or reshape their financial and operations base.

It is also interesting to note what the C-Suite is prioritizing less. Talent and corporate culture, organization structure and new business models, regulatory compliance, and corporate social responsibility were all mentioned less often than previously. R&D productivity and life-cycle management, identified as key issues in previous years, are also prioritized less often in this year’s analysis.

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