Product life cycle management deals with the process of management of an entire cycle of a product from when it is conceived through its designing and manufacturing, to servicing and disposal. It is more concerned with how the product is behaving in the market in respect to business, sale index and commercial costs. Saying products have a limited life cycle means;
- There is a limited time for the product
Sales have different distinct stages each with its own opportunities and challenges to the seller.
- There is increase and decrease of profits at each stage of the lifecycle
Products require different manufacturing, marketing and purchasing strategies `at different stages of the lifecycle.
Pharmaceutical project life cycle follows the bells curve or the normal distribution curve. The company starts with some challenge as it introduces a brand to the market, then the brand grow as the consumers familiarize themselves with it, moves to maintain market and finally saturation of the product leading to decreased volumes. Product life cycle development has four distinct stages.
Market introduction stage: here little or no money is made, the volume of sales is low, cost is high, demand has to be created and customers are prompted to buy the product.
Growth stage: there are increased sales, cost goes down, awareness by consumers’ increases and there at this stage there is increased profitability by the company.
Maturity stage: sales hit their peak, cost of production goes down, more competitors enter the market and maintaining the market share becomes the challenge.
Saturation and decline stage: the sales drop, volume of sales also goes down and the profit margin decreases. Distribution efficiency becomes a challenge.
Risk relates to potential loss or injury. There are three types of risks assed by the pharmaceutical companies:
Development investment risk: This tries to weigh the amount of investment versus the expected success or failure. The companies usually invest huge amount of capital and hence the new product must be able to repay the amount that had been invested.
Patients’ safety: health impacts. When the product gets to the market it can have sudden and unpredicted health impacts on the consumers. This can range from allergies to serious effects like carcinogenesis. Patient safety is a serious concern for the entire stake holder and that’s why the drug has to undergo a series of clinical trials before it is released to the market.
Risk for therapeutic failure: The drug must be able to achieve the purpose it was developed for e.g. curing a certain disease, relieving pain e.t.c.
Market familiarization in order for consumers to know about the new product being offered by the company. Many people are always reluctant in trying something new and hence a lot of sensitization has to be done to ensure the brand becomes known among customers. In failure of this the company risks making huge losses.
More clinical trials are required so as to ascertain the safety of the drug and ensure that it has no harmful side effects. Clinical trials are done in about five phases from in, through experimental animals to human. All this is done in order to check the effectiveness of the drug in either curative or preventive purposes and also the detrimental effects of the drug if any. Preventive clinical trials should be done to establish the probability of return of disease after it has been cured by the drug. Treatment trials that check on the new drug combinations that can be used for therapy against a specific disease. Quality of life trials are important to show the patients welfare after using the drug for a while. The patients were not tested in a good way for the following reasons:
- Patients not aware of the purpose of the trials
- Some doctors are paid by pharmaceuticals in order to produced biased results favoring the drug.
The drug is not controlled on every effect and can later have effects on those consuming it. Cases of massive organ failure have been reported in several phases of clinical trials. Some of the effects caused by the drug can be long term and so in the short term the drug seems safe but detrimental effects will come later in life. Effects such as genetic mutations take time to be manifested and hence continuous monitoring should be done on the long term side effects. Post marketing surveillance is therefore important in drug development and it can lead to withdraw of a drug if it is found to have detrimental side effects.
The product life cycle management has its limitations as rise in sales may not necessary indicate growth and falling in sales do not necessary signify decline. Companies like Pepsi and also Coca Cola have for many years been able to maintain high profits and attracted many customers for a many years yet both are in their maturity stage. New Products should be thoroughly scrutinized before releasing to the market to ensure safety of the customers.