Don't bet on a home-run drug launch, even for power-hitting drugs

The odds are against a forecast-beating drug launch. In fact, two-thirds of new products fall short of expectations their first year on the market and continue to fall short after that. But McKinsey & Co. consultants found that good launches are very, very good. What makes the difference?

The consulting firm took a close look at 60 different drug launches to find out. Some of them seemed to be obvious home runs. Others, not so much. They found that all types of drug launches have their pitfalls, even the products that promise to take the market by storm.

Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) prostate cancer treatment Zytiga exemplifies the best kind of launch, McKinsey's researchers wrote: a new drug for a pressing health problem that's very different from its rivals. These products might seem to be no-brainers, but that sort of complacency can kill a debut. "Capturing their full potential still requires shifting substantial resources from in-line brands to finance the launch," the consultants wrote. That means anticipating potential obstacles--reimbursement, for instance--and spotlighting the drug with doctors and patients, early and often.

The Zytiga model accounts for only one in four launches, though. More than half involve drugs that are "moderately differentiated" from competitors, stepping into disease areas that are already well-established. And then there are the drugs stepping into uncharted territory. Read more from FiercePharmaMarketing>>