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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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!
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ServiceNow | Pharmaceutical industry case study
Transforming service management for a global pharmaceutical company.
Principal, Advisory, Platforms, KPMG US
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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Inpharmation — Case Studies
- White Papers
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:.
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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.
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.
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?”
- Write down important information.
- Feel free to ask the interviewer for an explanation of any point that is not clear to you.
- Remember that calculators are not allowed - you may write out your calculations on paper during the interviews.
What factors should the team consider when evaluating whether GlobaPharm should acquire BioFuture?
- Take time to organize your thoughts before answering. This tells the interviewer that you think about the problem in a logical way.
- Develop overall approach before diving into details.
A good answer would include the following:.
- The value of BioFuture’s drug pipeline, number of drugs currently in development, quality of drugs (likelihood of success), potential revenues and profits
- BioFuture’s R&D capabilities (future drug pipeline), scientific talent, intellectual property (for example, patents, proprietary processes or know-how for biologicals research), and buildings, equipment, and other items that allow BioFuture’s R&D to operate.
- BioFuture’s marketing or sales capabilities. Especially how promotional messages will be delivered, for example, relationships with key opinion leaders that can promote biologicals; key opinion leaders can come from the academic arena, like prominent medical school professors, or from the public arena, like heads of regulatory bodies or prominent telejournalists.
- Acquisition price.
A very good answer might also include multiple additional key factors GlobaPharm should consider:
- BioFuture’s existing partnerships or other relationships with pharmacos.
- GlobaPharm’s capability gaps in biologicals, R&D, sales and marketing, etc.
- GlobaPharm’s alternatives to this acquisition. Alternative companies GlobaPharm could acquire. Other strategies for entering biological segment, for example, entering partnerships rather than acquiring, and pursuing other strategies than entering the biological segment
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?
- Be sure to mention a range of potential issues to explore instead of immediately diving very deep into one issue. Then ask your interviewer if he or she wants to go deeper on any of them specifically
- Further cost of R&D until each drug is ready to be sold.
- Potential value of selling each drug.
- Market size, for example, size of patient population, pricing
- Market share, for example, number of competitive drugs in R&D or on the market; different side effects, convenient dosing schedule (that is, patients are prescribed to take a drug at regular intervals that are easy to remember such as once a day or every 12 hours)
- Costs to manufacture and sell, for example, marketing, distribution
- Press about these drugs, for instance, have famous doctors called for this kind of drug? Is it only slightly improving on what is on the market already?
A very good answer would also include the following:
- Likelihood clinical trials of a drug will prove effective
- Likelihood that a drug will win regulatory approval
- Side effects and potential legal exposure, for example, potential law suits due to unexpected side effects
- Emergence of substitutes: are competitors working on substitutes already? Is it about speed and does BioFuture have enough researchers working on the respective drugs?
- Strength of underlying patents, that is, how likely is it that a competitor can successfully copy BioFuture’s drug?
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 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).
- Ask for clarification of information if necessary.
- Take notes of the numbers.
- Take time to plan out how to approach the calculation.
- Describe your approach and talk the interviewer through your calculation.
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:
- If a candidate drug passes Phase II, then it has a 50% x 90% = 45% chance of being successfully marketed and sold. Since a successful candidate drug is worth $1.2 billion, a candidate drug that passes Phase II is worth 45% x $1.2 billion = $540 million.
- To break even (that is, to make the $150 million investment worthwhile), the value of the candidate drug that passes Phase II would need to increase to $540 million + $150 million = $690 million. This means, the probability of combined success in Phase I and II would need to increase by (150/540) = 28 percentage points.
- So the current probability of Phase I and II, that is, 70% x 40% = 28% would have to increase by 28 percentage points, to 56%. In order to come up to 56%, Phase II probability would have to increase from 40% to 80% (70% x 80% = 56%).
- This seems like a very big challenge, as an increase by 40 percentage points means that the current probability of 40% needs to double.
- It is always good to provide a “sanity check” on your numbers and to provide common-sense commentary and insights on the implication of your calculations.
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:
- Integration into the process-driven GlobaPharm culture kills the entrepreneurial culture at BioFuture that has been key to its success.
- Language barriers severely hinder communication and sharing of information.
- Poor management and sense of community as a result of R&D operations that might come with a time difference of 9 hours.
- Key scientific talent leaving BioFuture after the acquisition – either because acquisition makes them independently wealthy or because they don't want to be a part of the new big GlobaPharm pharmaco.
- Recognize the “human element” of organizational change is always a key component of our work. Don't forget to include these types of insights in your answers.
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