GlaxoSmithKline, Global Clinical Development & Product Strategy
Evaluating a 10-year Horizon to Stay/Retreat from a Franchise

50 years of GlaxoSmithKline effort had produced one of the world’s largest selling franchises in antibiotics. In recent years, however, GSK’s heavy investments into R&D and licensing for antibiotics had resulted in some lead candidates, but no clear winners had emerged and currently marketed compounds were nearing the end of their life cycles.

Ultimately, a painful "do I stay or do I go?" decision for the therapy area was needed. Projections showed that no new products would emerge from research or licensing in the near future. The repercussions? "Gap years" where operating companies would have no branded products to sell. A loss of market presence would make it very difficult to re-energize marketing efforts at a future date.

Objectivity: A Difficult but Necessary Goal When Stakes Are High
Emotion coursed through every aspect of the analysis. Personal loyalty by old-timers in this therapy area ran deep. At the same time, corporate executives questioned the franchise’s financial viability and wondered whether the market needed a "better mouse trap." Skepticism was fueled after GSK unsuccessfully launched a new antibiotic product that had to be pulled from the market due to unanticipated safety concerns. As well, market competition and cost of marketing was one of the highest in the industry, so decisions to go forward were high risk. The bottom line? Recommendations would have wide ranging impacts on future operations, especially R&D staffing and manufacturing utilization of existing antibiotic-dedicated facilities.

Have the Nay-Sayers Agree on How to Make the Decision
A decision was needed, and Leisa Dennehy, director of international commercial strategy, (currently a principal of BioPharma Consultants, Ltd.) was tasked with driving a consensus. The effort required buy-in from clinical and marketing stakeholders in major operating companies. Leisa worked with the current head of International Strategy to develop the decision making approach. She leveraged a multi-national team consisting of the marketing heads and R&D personnel from the top eight markets. Decision science experts were brought in to develop a global decision model in this multinational and multifunctional environment. Team members then provided input into a global model that everyone helped to create and endorse. Thus, the team agreed in advance to the results by agreeing to the decision process.

Beware of the Corporate Re-Organization in Pushing Through Decisions!
Analysis of the global output suggested there was a profitable commercial opportunity, but that the current R&D initiative was too broad and ill focused. The result was a jointly written strategic decisions document that proposed re-focusing the R&D initiative. GSK was in the process of taking these analyses and recommendations to executive management for go/no-go decisions on drug candidates and R&D allocation. Sadly, the project was put on hold at height of the GW/SK merger. Recently, the discussion has been re-engaged, only now, of course, with a change of personnel as a result of the merger. As a result, the buy-in process and management briefing is starting again.