6 critical success factors for flawless execution of a rapid first commercial launch

Annemarie Armstrong, Executive Vice President, US Head of Client Services | January 18, 2022

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Annemarie Armstrong, Executive Vice President, US Head of Client Services, shares the key considerations for launching a first commercial product, particularly on a rapid timeline.

The success of any drug launch begins long before a regulatory agency gives the product the green light. From clinical development to commercialization, cross‑functional team collaboration is critical when bringing a new drug to market—even more so when the product is fast‑tracked or receives priority review. In the case of a company’s first commercial launch, the metaphor “building the plane while flying it” is often cited because so much is in progress.

As companies move from research and development (R&D) to commercialization, there are important decisions to be made and infrastructure required to support manufacturing, distribution, access, marketing, and sales—all of which are typically underway as pivotal trials are nearing completion. With a rapid approval of a first commercial product, launch planning fundamentals are even more important when every minute of every day counts.

Fishawack Health has had the privilege of working on dozens of new drug launches in recent years as the Brand Agency of Record—working with many biotech and biopharma companies on their first commercial launch. We’ve identified 6 critical success factors for fast-paced first commercial launches.



In a more condensed launch timetable, multiple workstreams run in parallel and must move quickly. Cross-functional teams may not have the time or attention to detail to see how one workstream impacts another. Creation of an internal launch readiness team to oversee and align multiple, overlapping workstreams is fundamental, but some companies may not be fully staffed to do this in the run-up to a rapid launch.

Whether employing internal teams or outside partners, these team members should be part of key meetings and discussions to help the organization look at the individual workstreams in context of the big picture and connect the dots when needed. Disconnects can be surfaced by the launch readiness team with the help of their partners. Issues can be readily escalated to decision-makers and course‑corrections made quickly. The launch readiness team keeps teams on task, on time, and accountable.


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