The past few years have seen the continued emergence of a dynamic biotech sector in Europe. A particular game changer for biotechs has been their development of increasingly specialised medicines such as those for rare diseases. By definition, there are relatively few healthcare practitioners specialising in these areas or patients requiring support, meaning that companies no longer need large sales forces in every market as they would were they launching a new diabetes drug focused on primary care. Also there is often no or limited competition. As a result, biotechs can now market their own products rather than licensing them to large pharma companies as has traditionally been the case.
This changes the support they require from their agency partners. They no longer require a presence in every market, which was the original justification for network agencies. Instead biotechs need a core agency team with a real understanding and knowledge of the challenges of working with complex medicines to bring their science to life for a complex set of stakeholders across different markets. Often too, that agency team needs to be able to help them build their company brand, as they may be poorly known by the relevant target groups, particularly if they are US biotechs who have recently opened a base in Europe.
Last but not least, they need greater flexibility from agency partners. Biotechs are typically fast-moving and entrepreneurial – decision-making processes are streamlined and plans are changed rapidly in response to new opportunities and circumstances. Agency responsiveness and agility, along with specialised knowledge, therefore become a prerequisite of meeting biotech expectations.