[This article is part of our Summer Webinar Series]

Commercial in the Pharmaceutical industry:

In the pharmaceutical industry, when you say commercial, its meaning could not be more broad. It is a large umbrella term that encompasses many different roles that can be very independent of one another. Ultimately, it falls to each individual to identify which commercial role to pursue post-fellowship.

When looking at fellowship programs with commercial roles, be sure to do your homework and have a baseline understanding of what role you want and follow-up with further questions. Some programs offer rotations through different commercial functions, which can be an excellent opportunity to identify the roles you love and want to pursue as a career, as well as the roles that are less interesting. I hope to provide a very high-level intro to different roles under the large commercial umbrella.

Some common commercial roles include marketing, market research, competitive intelligence, new products planning, and business development. Marketing is a process that identifies the needs of the consumer (HCP/payer/consumer dependent on role) and determines how best to communicate the product’s value to the target consumer. Market research uses different tools such as surveys or focus groups to gather information from external consultants on the market as a whole. For example, market research looks at the treatment landscape for a specific disease and determines how the company’s drug fits into the overall treatment landscape.

Competitive intelligence (CI) gathers and analyzes information on competitors’ products such as established competitors, new entrants to the market and mergers/acquisitions. Business development and CI complement one another, but business development may pursue strategic opportunities for the organization, such as cultivating partnerships with external companies. New products planning follows the process of a product from creation to market introduction. One key role in new products planning includes providing commercial guidance throughout the drug-development decision points.

As you can see, the commercial umbrella is quite large, and this article may not even encapsulate the entire breadth of the different commercial functions available. It does, however, provide a baseline understanding for PharmD students interested in pursuing a commercial role, and I encourage those interested to do some additional research to fully appreciate the role you may fall into and whether that is the one for you.

headshot of Alvin OngAlvin Ong, PharmD, is a US Medical Managed Care Post-Doctoral Fellow with MCPHS University and Sanofi Genzyme


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