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Impact Interview: Launch Training

Impactiviti recently interviewed Manny Santiago who is presently Associate Director, Oncology Training for Bayer. The topic of this interview was Launch Training – Manny co-wrote an article in the current edition of SPBT Focus magazine on this topic. Manny oversees oncology training (3 products) for 2 salesforces, with a total of 130 sales reps and managers. Previously, Manny was head of sales training for specialty sales training groups in large, medium, and small pharmaceutical companies.

Q1: What sorts of product launches have you been involved with during your career?

As head of a training department I have participated in launch training for 2 novel oncology product candidates, and line extensions for existing oncology products

Q2: What were some of the most effective and impactful elements that you’ve seen in a drug launch process?

One of the most impactful elements can be vendor selection. Choosing the right vendor can make all the difference on so many levels. For example, do they have a medical writer that understands your product and the disease entity your dealing with? This can save you thousands of dollars and a tremendous amount of time you could be wasting on rewrites. Along the same lines, is the vendor responsive to your needs? Are you called back and are emails answered promptly, or are you wasting valuable time tracking down your contact?

Q3: If you could pick one thing that dooms a drug launch from a training perspective, what would it be?

Simple: bad planning. I’ve seen a number of launches go awry simply because training waits until the last minute to put a launch plan together and begin executing on key tasks such as module development, legal approval, etc. The biggest favor any good trainer can do his/herself is start planning a year out, and executing along the way.

Q4: What have been the chief characteristics of good vendors that you’ve worked with during ramp-up to a launch?

As I mentioned, good vendors can make or break you. Some of the characteristics that separate the best vendors are:

  1. Prompt return of phone calls and emails
  2. A “can do” attitude, especially with regard to last minute changes requested by others in the organization
  3. Having a team in house that is experienced in the disease entity you are dealing with

Q5: If a training manager has just found out that she will be working on a launch that’s about a year away, how do you suggest she get started?

A good start would be to read my article in FOCUS. That provides an excellent overview with timelines. But remember, the devil is in the details, so the article is just a primer.

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