Matthew Dickinson

Early communications in Pharma: How effective pre-approval comms delivers launch success

Insights category icon Insights

by Matthew | 01 Jul Read Time6 min

Matthew Dickinson, Managing Director of Dice, is an Economics graduate of Melbourne University, and entered the world of consumer advertising in Australia - working for global agencies DDB and Ogilvy. His experience drives Dice to deliver the best possible work for clients.


Ensuring your treatments have the position, presence and promotion they need to become recognised from the moment they launch is critical when it comes to pharmaceutical marketing, and it’s something Dice have been doing for their clients for years. 

However, scientific communications in the earlier stages of your medicine’s development – from early trials through to regulatory approval – is sometimes overlooked. This means that an important lever is missing when it comes to support for your brand launch and its marketing. 

Expertly-authored and presented communications, for both internal and external use around topics such as clinical trials, evolving evidence for use of different therapies, disease awareness and diagnosis can have a profound impact on launch trajectory and aiding prescribers in the use of a novel medicine.

Anticipating the journey

Every treatment is created with an end goal in mind – a successful new option for patients with an as-yet unmet medical need.

In parallel, it is important to remember that market access is of vital importance to your brand. By this we mean ensuring your treatment will be available to the patients who need it once it has been approved and launched. 

Patient access is typically facilitated through a combination of activities, including engagement with health technology bodies, such as NICE, as well as communications relating to disease awareness and scientific information about novel treatments becoming  available. Ensuring that the trials, reports, reviews and industry opinions gathered and generated during development are communicated effectively is of great importance to your medicine’s perception prior to approval and its wider success at launch. 

How exactly does involving a marketing agency prior to approval affect the way you can communicate the value and urgency of your treatment, and help your launch success?

The benefits of early involvement 

The regulatory review and approval process itself is a huge task. The preparation of a dossier to present to national regulators is best handled by a dedicated team, either in-house or externally. This is not where a marketing agency’s skills lie.

What a medical writing and marketing agency can do to help your treatment’s launch success is to bridge the communications gap between the drug development process and your marketing collateral around its launch. 

Framing the conversations around your treatment and its qualities throughout its journey is vitally important, especially in the development stage. This can include but is not limited to:

  • Describing your clinical trial designs and overall trial programme
  • Publication planning and congress/abstract communications
  • Results and analyses from clinical development programme 
  • Activity to gain disease awareness with KOLs and the wider scientific community

Engaging a full-service pharma marketing agency at the pre-approval stage has the potential to grant some significant benefits for your campaigns: 

Consistency – The language, emphasis and core values around your brand will be communicated in the same way from its conception through to prescription. Readers, whether internal or external, will be clear about and inspired by the motivations driving its creation, with all information delivered with a definite end result in mind. 

Consultancy – A marketing agency with experience in pre-launch comms will be able to offer invaluable advice on everything from your clinical trials communications strategy to publication planning for peer review, as well as what information you disseminate when and how, so that it is most effective.

Deeper knowledge – Coming on board at an earlier stage guarantees your marketing agency will develop an intimate understanding of your treatment’s origins, development and mechanisms, especially if they evolve over time. This in turn will inform how they talk about your brand, what assets you will need and when they need to go out. This will really bear fruit in the launch planning stage, when your marketing team will know precisely which issues and outcomes to emphasise.

Greater investment in the outcomes – Seeing a brand through its life cycle planning from origination to launch gives your marketing agency a deeper sense of involvement and an emotional investment in how your campaigns perform, on top of the usual commercial interest. They’ll get to see your team’s passion and drive, understand the motivations behind the treatment’s creation and relate this to the patient outcomes you want to effect.

Comprehensive planning – Thinking several stages ahead in your marketing and communications so that you anticipate (and in many cases influence) what people will need and want to see at the key points along your treatment’s timeline. Knowing when to deliver considered information to stakeholders internally and externally is a vital element of your strategy and preparing your brand for market. 

Strategies to solve early communications challenges

Development stage communications have a valuable role to play in supporting manufacturers through the pre-launch process as well as when taking medicines to market. Manufacturers can face a number of challenges around creating disease awareness, keeping key stakeholders informed and on-side, and generating the evidence and familiarity their brand will need to succeed at launch and in the long term.

A marketing agency working with pre-approval communications can facilitate a wide range of compelling, expertly produced internal and external collateral. This will be specifically designed to inform and inspire all those involved with the brand’s development as well as successfully engage with the scientific community.

The typical remit for development-stage communications will involve: 

  • Trials strategies – numbers, types, demographics and endpoints to provide valid results
  • Publication strategies – which industry journals to target with trial results and reports, and when
  • Early phase development writing – internal and external messaging to keep everyone informed and on the same page
  • Late stage development and tests – information and guidance for investors, ambassadors and recruitment
  • Launch planning – identifying the necessary assets and channels to use and creating an effective strategy
  • Value propositions – creating strong messaging to convey quickly, simply and memorably the key benefits of your brand
  • Data analysis and evidence – honest, thorough assessments of the facts and results around your tests
  • Digital infrastructure – everything you will need online to promote your brand: website, landing pages, online tutorials, interviews and promotional videos, surveys and more 

Everything we do prior to your launch will be invaluable to our efforts once your treatment is approved. It will feed directly into our customer-facing marketing, giving all material more depth and an acute sense of purpose. 

Keeping patients front and centre in everything we do

The very fundamentals of what we do as a pharmaceutical marketing agency are focused on patient outcomes. We are only too aware that HCPs and clinicians need to be in a position to recommend or prescribe your brand when they encounter patients exhibiting the appropriate symptoms.

This is why our strategies and communications emphasise a patient-centric approach. Throughout conception to development, testing, trials and eventually the launch of your medicine, we’ll relate all your work towards the problems patients are facing and how introducing your brand will eventually lead to the relief or elimination of their symptoms. The whole thrust of our campaigns is to ensure conditions do not go untreated, and this theme will ensure your pre-approval communications will take on the appropriate urgency to make them most effective.

This will only help your treatment’s launch success, as its story will evolve alongside its development to create compelling material at every stage. Our efforts will ensure that HCPs are in a position to understand the work done to develop a new medicine, are aware of the unmet needs in the therapy area and will eventually know which patients to treat when the medicine becomes available.

Streamline your brand’s journey through development to launch

Please get in touch with the Dice team to talk over a strategy that will ensure your medicines reache the people in a position to make the most difference to their patients.