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Engagement planning

Why medical and commercial strategy should be aligned – but not identical 

21 Mar 2024 | By Engagement Solutions Team
When it comes to pharma’s commercial and medical teams, there’s always healthy tension – but aligning strategy is important to ensure brand success.

The pharmaceutical industry often faces a tension between medical and commercial priorities. On one hand, pharma companies have a duty to develop and provide medicines that improve health outcomes for patients. On the other hand, they are businesses that need to generate profits. So how much should medical and commercial strategies be aligned? 

Understanding the benefits and the risks 

There are good reasons why medical and commercial aims cannot be fully matched in pharma.  

Medical teams focus on assessing unmet patient needs, evaluating clinical trial data, and determining the appropriate uses of a drug based on efficacy and safety. Commercial teams, meanwhile, focus on market dynamics, pricing, promotional tactics, and sales forecasting. Definitely different objectives. 

However, completely separating medical and commercial strategies also poses risks. If the commercial launch doesn’t fit the medical evidence, it could promote off-label use or inappropriate prescribing. And products won’t succeed commercially if they don’t address real medical needs.  

Synergy in the strategy  

So while differences between medical and commercial will naturally persist, the strategies must align directionally. The commercial approach should be grounded in medical insights on patient segments, product positioning, competitive differences, and messaging.  

Medical teams should also appreciate the business context and constraints, so clinical programs support commercial viability.  

At Uniphar, we work across the product lifecycle with our medical colleagues to shape strategy, define KPIs and deliver connected, effective solutions that have impact. 

Solid relationships 

Alignment between medical and commercial is possible but it takes ongoing collaboration, communication, and mutual understanding. The way to do this is through cross-functional governance, integrating expertise into multifunctional brand teams, and building relationships between leaders in each domain. And for the commercial readers – get medical on board early – it’s the best way. 

Healthy tension between medical and commercial perspectives is good, and never likely to go away, but they must share the same overarching goals for improving health through successful new therapies. 

Want support with your commercial strategy and expertise on aligning with medical? Our brand optimisation specialists will show you how.