The future of pharma commerce

How COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation of pharmaceutical industry

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The global pandemic disrupted the ‘business as usual’ of the pharmaceutical sector. Yet there is a silver lining - pharma B2B commerce efficiently shifted online.

As the physical world ground to a halt during the lockdown, digital became the new normal in most daily activities. From Zoom calls and remote work, to shopping online - everyone had to adapt their professional and personal habits. The impact was especially felt in global industries, where networking is a key ingredient to the businesses success.

“In pharmaceutical commerce, it is surprising how much emphasis was still put on face-to-face meetings, personal connections or product sourcing during tentpole industry trade shows. The field was significantly lagging behind other sectors, where digital has significantly reduced product discovery and time-to-market times. You would not expect this in such a high-tech, R&D driven field”, - said CEO of Pipelinepharma Mindaugas Zagorskis, a B2B pharmaceutical dealmaking platform.

According to Zagorskis, nearly everything today could be easily sourced online, with specialist marketplaces serving a diverse set of niche and mainstream B2B spheres.

So why was pharma different?

Shifting pharma dealmaking online

Prior to the launch of Pipelinepharma, Mindaugas had nearly 20 years of pharma industry experience under his belt. After graduating from medical school, he pursued an MBA diploma and later served in various business development roles at leading pharmaceutical companies.

“Compared to other industries, I always found the traditional pharma business development not very efficient. To put it simply, it is a global business. You have a large set of geographically dispersed manufacturers. There is also a vast amount of distributors looking to fulfill their pipeline. Yet there is no easy way for them to match”, - adds Zagorskis.

With a team of like-minded pharma executives, Mindaugas launched Pipelinepharma marketplace platform. The platform now boasts the largest dossier database of finished dosage formulation products. It also caters to qualified B2B pharma buyers in 182 countries.

“There is a lot of talk around Pharma 4.0 concept of pharma digital transformation. While it addresses the manufacturing or company culture issues, there is little talk about supply side issues or digital commerce. When COVID-19 struck, it was an ‘aha’ moment for many pharma business developers: trade show circle was no longer in place, there was no easy way to expand their Rolodexes - why not try doing business online?” - says Zagorskis.

During the COVID-19 pandemic Pipelinepharma increased by 90%. From a ‘one-of-the’ ways to source for new pharmaceutical products, it suddenly became ‘the-one’.

Building the largest FDF database

Pipelinepharma now includes more than 47.000 dossiers for finished dosage formulations with 5.000 new dossiers added every month. Yet, according to Mindaugas, it is not the size, it is the data quality that matters.

“Our database is fully vetted and expert curated, meaning that all product information is up-to-date. In addition, we focused on including extended product information such as substance, form, dose, registration status, GMP approvals, country of origin, CTD dossier type and status, clinical and stability data, CPP's, available/non-available markets. Essentially, this reduces new product discovery time to 5 minutes”, - says Zagorskis.

In addition, quality of the products itself is the key. Therefore manufacturers also go through a thorough vetting process before their products are made available online.

After identifying a relevant product, the platform buyer may submit a request. The response from the manufacturers usually takes between 3 to 15 days. The deal progress may be easily tracked via the Pipelinepharma platform.

According to Mindaugas, a digital approach significantly reduces costs, business development effort and time-to-market.

“We have accommodated deals on our platform where the full cycle took less than 6 months from initial concept to products on the market. In traditional ways, this would have taken years to accomplish”, - adds Zagorskis.

Identifying qualified business prospects

In addition to a network of motivated buyers, the platform was quickly embraced by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

“There was some skepticism among the sellers at first. Some have already experimented with B2B ecommerce on their own terms, yet were bombarded with loads of spam and irrelevant requests”, - tells Mindaugas.

At Pipelinepharma every request is first qualified by the platform’s business development officer before it reaches the manufacturer - meaning that only qualified offers reach the seller. Pipelinepharma’s officer then supervises the deal every step of the way.

“The average contract value on our platform is 1.1M Euro including dossier license fee and 5Y supply” - adds Mindaugas.

Pipelinepharma marketplace already facilitated pharmaceutical product licensing, supply, acquisition deals of more than 200M € in value in the past years.