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What Is a Case Study?

When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.

Deep Dive into a Topic

At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.

As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.

Study a Pattern

One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.

Gather Evidence

During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.

Present Findings

As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.

Draw Conclusions

Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.


case study of pharmaceutical company

Pharmaceutical Company

This case is one of many consulting cases from the Case Library – ready to start?

Video Walkthrough of Case Study

Case Study Prompt

Your client is a pharmaceutical company that is ready to launch a new drug. It is a drug for severe asthma. It is essentially the same as what is in the market today, but it is stronger, faster, and can treat severe cases that are not properly treated with today’s medicine.

The drug is seen as a breakthrough. The client is planning to launch this drug in Canada. They are coming to you to determine how they should price the drug. What would you need to explore to determine a good price?

Case Study Overview

The client in this case is a pharma company that is prepping to launch a new product. You’ve been brought in to develop a pricing strategy for the product. After you understand the problem by reading through the prompt, it’s time to build a structure for the case.

The Market Study Framework marks a good starting point for your structure, but keep in mind that consulting firms don’t want to see you relying heavily on the basic case frameworks. You’ll need to combine your business experience with your structuring knowledge to build a custom structure best suited to the case.

The BCG case study is one of many consulting cases that will aid you in your case interview prep. There is 1 math exhibit in the case.

BCG Interview Tips

If you want to do well in your BCG interview, focus on what the firm values: communication and structure.

You need to demonstrate that you have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of frameworks, and that you can communicate your structure in a clear and concise manner

One extra thing for this case: after you run through the case (out-loud, preferably!), take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Then, do drill-based practice to double down on those areas. That is the way to case proficiency!

For quality out-loud case practice with an expert, book a session with an ex-MBB coach today. Get more great consulting cases by heading back to the CL .

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ServiceNow | Pharmaceutical industry case study

Transforming service management for a global pharmaceutical company.

Joe Koester

Joe Koester

Principal, Advisory, Platforms, KPMG US

+1 703-307-1104

A leading global pharmaceutical company wanted to improve the way they organized, deployed, and managed IT services worldwide. For almost a decade, they had been using a legacy service management tool that had become highly cumbersome and fragmented, with disconnected processes forming silos across the organization. They wanted to introduce a standardized process model that could be rolled out internationally to create a comprehensive, consistent, and lasting solution. And they wanted this new model to be enabled by a single, market-leading ITSM platform.

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case study of pharmaceutical company

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Inpharmation — Case Studies

Case studies.

Real-world evidence of delivering strategic insights to the pharmaceutical industry

Inpharmation runs global projects for the majority of top-50 pharmaceutical companies, across all major therapy areas., below you can browse a selection of projects showcasing examples of real-world strategic insights inpharmation delivers., to receive your full free copy of any case study:.

Informing pricing prospects for a gene therapy in-licensing deal

To in-license, or not to in-license? Our client wanted to evaluate the price potential of a promising new product. The indication had a high unmet need and there was potential for the product to be used in future combination therapies. A lack of analogues and tight timelines added further complexity to the project. Inpharmation’s combination […]

Second indication, a second chance?

Analogue-based pricing had previously failed our client. They now had just eight weeks to make a launch or no-launch decision for a second indication. An evidence-based approach was needed to prevent repeating past mistakes.

Where do you start with pricing when the future landscape is unknown?

Limited clinical trial data, multiple lines of treatment and a changing pricing landscape presented challenges for the pricing assessment of an innovative oncology asset. However, Inpharmation’s evidence-based techniques were able to provide a flexible solution within the customer’s tight timelines.

How a flexible approach to pricing research allowed a rapid change of direction when unexpected trial results emerged

A pharma company wanted to launch its asset into a second indication. However, just as Inpharmation’s research was coming to an end, unexpected clinical trial results were revealed. This required a rapid change in strategy.

One chronic illness, many unlicensed treatments and one pipeline asset: Where do you start with pricing?

A leading pharma company needed to understand the price potential of their novel first-in class asset. Without any direct comparators, they were unsure what price they could achieve and how payers were going to behave. Inpharmation’s evidence-based approaches provided the perfect solution…

A clinical advance with a novel mechanism of action: What will its uptake look like?

With no obvious analogues and mixed messages from previous demand and qualitative research, our client was unsure what their novel asset’s uptake would look like. Inpharmation had the ideal approach to provide validated insights and evidence-based results…

How preconceived ideas of sample size nearly soured a great project

Pharma Specific Conjoint offered an ideal solution for our client. However, the significantly smaller sample size, compared to that of discrete-choice conjoint, lead to the project being met with reservations. A solution was needed to demonstrate the accuracy of our methodology.

How a lack of analogues could have undervalued a promising in-licensing opportunity

High unmet need offered a promising environment for a new asset; however, with no obvious analogues to quantify price potential, an approach ideal for an indication with no current treatments was needed…

A promising cardiovascular treatment in a highly prevalent disease

A highly prevalent disease with existing inexpensive therapies presented a challenging pricing environment for our client’s cardiovascular treatment. To deliver the optimal pricing strategy, Inpharmation used a combination of primary and secondary pricing techniques.

How analogue-based pricing confused a team of pricing experts

Traditional analogue-based pricing and qualitative payer interviews left our client confused when pricing an asset in a previously untreated disease with an uncertain patient population. Behavior-Based Pricing provided much needed clarity by drawing upon thousands of real-world payer decisions.

Client goal

Our client is GlobaPharm, a major pharmaceutical company (pharmaco) with $10 billion a year in revenue. Its corporate headquarters and primary research and development (R&D) centers are in Germany, with regional sales offices worldwide.

Description of situation

GlobaPharm has a long, successful tradition in researching, developing, and selling “small molecule” drugs. This class of drugs represents the vast majority of drugs today, including aspirin and most blood-pressure or cholesterol medications. GlobaPharm is interested in entering a new, rapidly growing segment of drugs called “biologicals.” These are often proteins or other large, complex molecules that can treat conditions not addressable by traditional drugs.

R&D for biologicals is vastly different from small-molecule R&D. To gain these capabilities, pharmacos have three options: they can build them from scratch, partner with existing start-ups, or acquire the start-ups. Since its competitors are already several years ahead of GlobaPharm, GlobaPharm wants to jumpstart its biologicals program by acquiring BioFuture, a leading biologicals start-up based in the San Francisco area. BioFuture was founded 12 years ago by several prominent scientists and now employs 200 people. It is publicly traded and at its current share price the company is worth about $1 billion in total.

McKinsey study

GlobaPharm has engaged McKinsey to evaluate the BioFuture acquisition and to advise on its strategic fit with GlobaPharm's biologicals strategy. Our overall question today, therefore, is “Should GlobaPharm acquire BioFuture?”

Helpful hints

Question 1:

What factors should the team consider when evaluating whether GlobaPharm should acquire BioFuture?

Reveal Answer

A good answer would include the following:.

A very good answer might also include multiple additional key factors GlobaPharm should consider:

Question 2:

The team wants to explore BioFuture’s current drug pipeline. The team decides to focus first on evaluating the value of BioFuture’s current drug portfolio. What issues should the team consider when evaluating the value of BioFuture’s existing drug pipeline?

A very good answer would also include the following:

Question 3:

Below is a description of expected probability of success, by stage, in the Pharma R&D pipeline.

Note: “Filing” is the process of submitting all of the clinical and safety evidence from Phase I, II, and III trials, and asking for regulatory approval to actually sell the drug.

GlobaPharm Exhibit

GlobaPharm believes that the likelihood of success of BioFuture’s primary drug candidate can be improved by investing an additional $150 million in a larger Phase II trial. The hope is that this investment would raise the success rate in Phase II, meaning that more candidate drugs successfully make it to Phase III and beyond. By how much would the Phase II success rate need to increase in order for this investment to break even?

The interviewer would tell you to assume that if the drug is successfully marketed and sold, it would be worth $1.2 billion (that is, the present value of all future profits from selling the drug is $1.2 billion).

A very good answer would include the following.

Investment would need to increase the probability of success in Phase II from 40 to 80 percent (that is, increase of 40 percentage points). There are multiple ways to approach this calculation. One method is shown here:

Helpful hint

Question 4:

Next, the team explores the potential setup with BioFuture after the acquisition. Although BioFuture's existing drug pipeline is relatively limited, GlobaPharm is highly interested in its ability to serve as a biological research “engine” that, when combined with GlobaPharm's existing R&D assets, will produce many candidate drugs over the next 10 years.

What are your hypotheses on the major risks of integrating the R&D functions of BioFuture and GlobaPharm?

A very good answer would include the following:

Pharmaceutical →

case study of pharmaceutical company

Buy-In from Black Patients Suffers When Drug Trials Don’t Include Them

Diversifying clinical trials could build trust in new treatments among Black people and their physicians. Research by Joshua Schwartzstein, Marcella Alsan, and colleagues probes the ripple effects of underrepresentation in testing, and offers a call to action for drugmakers.

case study of pharmaceutical company

Curbing an Unlikely Culprit of Rising Drug Prices: Pharmaceutical Donations

Policymakers of every leaning have vowed to rein in prescription drug costs, with little success. But research by Leemore Dafny shows how closing a loophole on drugmaker donations could eliminate one driver of rising expenses.

case study of pharmaceutical company

Private and Social Returns to R&D: Drug Development and Demographics

Research and development (R&D) by pharmaceutical firms focuses disproportionately on medical conditions afflicting the elderly. The proportion of R&D spending targeting older age groups is increasing over time. Even though these investments in R&D prolong life expectancy and improve quality of life, they have little effect on measured productivity and output growth.

case study of pharmaceutical company

What Does December's Drug-Approval Dash Mean for COVID-19 Vaccines?

Even in the best of times, pharmaceutical regulators tend to rush through drug applications in December. Now add in a ruthless pandemic. Research and insights from Lauren Cohen. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

What Can Economics Say About Alzheimer's Disease?

This essay discusses the role of market frictions and "missing medicines" in drug innovation and highlights how frameworks and toolkits of economists can help our understanding of the determinants and effects of Alzheimer's disease on health.

case study of pharmaceutical company

How to Launch a New Biosciences Product: Start Small or Dive in?

C16 Biosciences wants to replace palm oil, a major contributor to deforestation, with a lab-grown substitute. But CEO Shara Ticku faces a tough decision in bringing the product to market. Jeff Bussgang discusses his case study. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

case study of pharmaceutical company

COVID's Surprising Toll on Careers of Women Scientists

Women scientists and those with young children are paying a steep career price in the pandemic, according to new research by Karim Lakhani, Kyle Myers, and colleagues. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

case study of pharmaceutical company

Merck CEO Ken Frazier Discusses a COVID Cure, Racism, and Why Leaders Need to Walk the Talk

VIDEO: Ken Frazier, one of only four Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, speaks with Professor Tsedal Neeley about the search for a coronavirus vaccine, how racism at the workplace holds back America’s progress, and his own upbringing just one generation from slavery. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

case study of pharmaceutical company

In a Pandemic, What’s the Best Strategy for the Global Vaccine Alliance?

How should the vaccine alliance Gavi respond to the worldwide need for a cure for the COVID-19 pandemic? Tarun Khanna discusses his case study. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

Rebates in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Evidence from Medicines Sold in Retail Pharmacies in the U.S.

Retail pharmacy data illustrates it can be misleading to use list prices instead of net prices to understand pharmaceutical prices. Analysts and economists working in public policy should be extremely cautious in drawing policy conclusions based on list prices alone.

case study of pharmaceutical company

Pursuing Precision Medicine at Intermountain Healthcare

What happens when Intermountain Healthcare invests resources in an innovative precision medicine unit to provide life-extending, genetically targeted therapies to late-stage cancer patients? Professors Richard Hamermesh and Kathy Giusti discuss the case and its connections to their work with the Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

case study of pharmaceutical company

In a Landscape of 'Me Too' Drug Development, What Spurs Radical Innovation?

Pharmaceutical companies are criticized for not producing more breakthrough drugs. But new research by Joshua Krieger and colleagues shows that, given a financial windfall, drug giants turn on the innovation. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

case study of pharmaceutical company

When a Competitor Abandons the Market, Should You Advance or Retreat?

Companies pay close attention when a competitor drops out of the market, according to new research by Joshua Lev Krieger. Too often, though, they come to the wrong conclusion. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

Developing Novel Drugs

This paper contributes to our understanding of how financing constraints affect the direction of innovation in drug development. The authors develop a new measure of drug novelty based on molecular characteristics, and explore the tradeoffs involved in decisions to develop more novel therapies. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

case study of pharmaceutical company

A Better Business Model for Fighting Cancer

The Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator aims to speed up the development and delivery of cancer therapies by improving the business processes that surround them. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

Do All Your Detailing Efforts Pay Off? Dynamic Panel Data Methods Revisited

Personal selling in the form of detailing to physicians is the main go-to-market practice in the pharmaceutical industry. This paper provides a practical framework to analyze the effectiveness of detailing efforts. The method and empirical insights can help firms allocate sales-force resources more efficiently and devise optimal routes and call-pattern designs.

The Impact of the Entry of Biosimilars: Evidence from Europe

Biosimilars are large-molecule drugs that, while not an exact copy of already-approved large-molecule drugs, have been shown to be therapeutically equivalent. Much like generic drugs, which become available when a small-molecule drug goes off patent, biosimilars are lower in cost than their reference products and present an opportunity for savings when large-molecule drugs’ patents expire. Biosimilars have been available in the United States only since 2015 but have been regulated, approved, and sold in Europe for over a decade. This paper examines the European experience to help inform policy design and institutional choices for the United States. Topics covered include the entry of distributors and unique products; predictors of average product prices following biosimilar competition; and penetration of biosimilars as a share of total sales.

Public R&D Investments and Private-sector Patenting: Evidence from NIH Funding Rules

By tracing the often-circuitous path from National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to patented innovations, this research examines the effects of public science on private sector innovation in the life sciences.

Reform Tax Law to Keep US Firms at Home

The flood of US corporations relocating to other countries is a hot topic in Congress. In recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, Mihir Desai provided possible solutions around rethinking corporate tax and regulatory policy. Open for comment; 0 Comments.

Entrepreneurship and Multinationals Drive Globalization

Why is the firm overlooked as a contributor when we identify the drivers of globalization? Geoffrey Jones discusses his new book, Entrepreneurship and Multinationals: Global Business and the Making of the Modern World. Open for comment; 0 Comments.


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