Applied Dimensionality

Drug Discovery, Development & Commercialization at Coursera

Posted at — Jan 17, 2015
Drug Discovery, Development & Commercialization at Coursera

Just finished yet another Coursera course and am very impressed by quality of content and lectures. This time it was more of a ’subject matter’/‘business’ course rather than the usual technical stuff.

Pharmaceuticals is definitely my ‘main’ industry: I spent a lot of time doing projects for various pharma companies in multiple countries. My first project, 14 years ago (sniff-sniff), was on a software product called Adaytum for Protek, Russia’s largest pharma distributor at the time. And  I have subsequently spent around 5-6 years doing various gigs (planning, BI & DWH) in Johnson&Johnson Russia. After coming over to Australia, I managed to do some BI work for Boehringer Ingelheim and since then Sanofi is the main star on the horizon at the moment.  I regularly loose count of the number of projects I’m involved in at Sanofi (most likely because I forgot how to count over 10 at the day I got my PhD).

Despite all this experience and exposure, I felt that my view of the industry is a bit angled towards finance planning side (sales / opex / personnel planning) and sales reporting (IMS, sales force efficiency, daily sales), so I was actually quite happy to start doing clinical trials forecasting models for APAC countries a year ago, it was something fairly new. And even though the projects were up and running with quite a lot of success, I thought that I actually need to rearrange my understanding of pharmaceutical industry and various streams of activities that happen inside a pharma giant.

Luckily, I found Drug Discovery, Development & Commercialisation course at Coursera, which turned out to be exactly what I wanted: a birds-eye view on the whole range of tasks that need to be done to bring a new drug to market. So spending a 3-4 hours per week during 2,5 months, listening to lectures and reading about the whole lifecycle from drug discovery and construction (where various terms like biologics, small molecules, structural biology finally kicked in), drug evaluation (various clinical trials phases) and all the regulatory paperwork & constraints of registering the drug up to the point of marketing approaches and various pricing policies around the globe was really really good.

Almost every lecture had it’s ‘aha’ moment where I finally understood why some things were done this or that way and lectures were perfectly delivered by top-notch professionals both from academia and  industry. It was particularly interesting to listen to people from the companies I used to work for ) Course was obviously more focused on US market, where pricing and marketing rules are very different from anywhere I worked before, but it made it more interesting.

Overall it was a fantastic experience and the it was really similar to finally solving an optical illusion: you can clearly see what was hidden and it’s very obvious and you’re puzzled that you could miss it before.

Hat tip to William Ettouati and all the team for pulling this course together! Thanks a lot!

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