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Pharmaceutical Industry

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Case Study Prompt

Your client is a highly profitable pharmaceutical company that has a world leading position in one therapy area (TA) and is a niche player in a non-related therapy area.

The company currently has annual sales growth of 8%, but the CEO has set a target annual growth rate of 12-15% – in other words, he wants to triple their revenue over next 10 years.

However, their research project pipeline is thin. The research and development organization is heavily under-spending compared to their budget (they have a budget target of around 16% of revenue, but are not using all the money allocated). Senior management has little insight in how the R&D department operates.

Their growth target is ambitious but not unrealistic (given the money they have for investments and typical industry development).

What is the client’s key issue/problem?

Case Study Overview

A successful pharma company has hired you to help them grow revenues – specifically, to triple revenue over the next 10 years. The client wants you to diagnose key issues preventing growth, and to develop a strategy the company can implement immediately.

Now you need to create your framework to help you solve the case problem. How will you organize your data buckets? You can utilize the Profitability Framework to help build the structure, but don’t limit yourself to the basic frameworks. Think outside the box!

Case study examples like this can help you prepare for case interviews. This case will help you prep for a final round interview, with a qualitative difficulty of 4/4. The case also includes several math exhibits that you will interpret.

IQVIA Interview Tips

To crush your IQVIA case interview, you will need to demonstrate an ability to convert data into actionable insights.

Make sure you ask the right questions to gather the data you need to solve the case.

In a final round case like this, focus on your communication – clear and structured – and your overall polish.

For out-loud case practice, book a session with an expert coach today. Get more great case study examples by clicking back to the CL

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Hacking The Case Interview

If you’re interviewing for a healthcare consulting firm, expect to be given several case interviews to solve. All consulting firms use case interviews to assess candidates. 

These include generalist firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. They also include healthcare consulting firms such as Health Advances, ClearView Healthcare Partners, Putnam Associates, Huron Consulting Group, IQVIA, ZS Associates, and Simon Kutcher.

Case interviews simulate what the consulting job is like by placing you in a hypothetical business situation. It is a 30 to 45-minute exercise in which you will work with the interviewer to develop a recommendation or answer to a business problem.

Case interviews are so widely used because they assess many of the qualities that candidates need to have to become successful consultants. A case interview assesses structured thinking, analytical capabilities, business acumen, communication skills, and cultural fit with the firm.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to ace your healthcare consulting case interviews. We’ll cover:  

Essential Healthcare Industry Knowledge You Should Know  

The healthcare industry is a massive and complex industry. It can be broken down into the following four major sectors:

There are various types of stakeholders that participate in the healthcare industry. You should be familiar with each of these stakeholders and how they interact with each other:

There has been a massive amount of innovation happening in the healthcare industry. You should be familiar with the biggest trends, such as:

The 7 Steps to Solve Any Healthcare Consulting Case

Follow these seven steps to solve any healthcare consulting case interview.

1. Understand the case background information

The case interview will start with the interviewer explaining the case background information. Make sure that you are taking notes while the interviewer is speaking. You’ll want to focus specifically on understanding the context, the company, and the objective of the case.

The most important part of the case interview is to make sure you understand the business issue and objective of the case. Addressing the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a case interview.

2. Ask clarifying questions

Once the interviewer has finished giving you the case information, you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions. 

While you can ask any question that you want, try to prioritize asking questions that help you better understand the situation and problem. You want to avoid asking questions that are too specific or not relevant to understanding the case situation. 

Most candidates ask between one to three questions. You’ll be able to ask more questions later in the case interview if you need to.

3. Summarize the information and verify the objective

Once you have finished asking your immediate questions, summarize all of the major case information and verify that you understand the objective correctly.

In this step, many candidates make the mistake of stating every fact of the case verbatim. Instead, you should summarize the case concisely and clearly in your own words. This demonstrates that you can synthesize information effectively.

4. Develop a framework

The next step is to structure a framework to help guide you through the case.

A case interview framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down a complex problem into simpler, smaller components. Think of a framework as brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.

To develop a framework, ask yourself what are the three to four major questions that you need to answer in order to make a confident recommendation?

Many candidates make the mistake of using memorized frameworks and applying them to their case interviews. Interviewers can tell when you are using a memorized framework because not all of the elements of the framework will be relevant to the case.

Using a memorized framework reflects poorly on your capabilities because it shows that you cannot think critically for yourself. Therefore, practice creating unique and tailored frameworks for each case that you get.

To learn more on how to create outstanding frameworks, check out our comprehensive case interview framework guide .

When creating your framework, it is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a few minutes of silence to collect your thoughts. Afterwards, present your framework to the interviewer.

5. Kick off the case

Once you have finished presenting your framework, the interviewer may agree with your approach or may provide some feedback or suggestions. Afterwards, it is time to start solving the case.

How the case investigation will start depends on whether your case is a candidate-led or interviewer-led case. Most cases are candidate-led.

Candidate-led case : In this type of case, you will be expected to drive the direction of the case. You will be suggesting what areas to explore, what analyses to do, and what the next step should be. So, pick an area of your framework to start analyzing. There is no right or wrong area to pick as long as it is relevant to solving the case.

Interviewer-led case : In this type of case, the interviewer will be leading the direction of the case. They will be asking you specific questions that you will answer. After each question, they’ll direct you to the next question. For interviewer-led cases, the interviewer will typically kick off the case by asking you a question after you finish presenting your framework.

6. Answer quantitative and qualitative questions

The majority of the interview will be spent answering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions.

Quantitative questions may have you estimate the size of a particular market, perform some calculations to determine profitability, or interpret various charts and graphs.

When solving quantitative problems, make sure that you walk the interviewer through your approach before you begin doing any math. When performing calculations, make sure to talk through your steps out loud so that it is easy for the interviewer to follow your work.

Qualitative questions may ask you to brainstorm potential ideas or ask for your judgment on an open-ended business question. When answering these questions, try to structure your answer as much as possible.

After answering each question, make sure that you take your answer and connect it back to the overall case objective. How does your answer help you solve the case? How does your answer impact your potential recommendation?

7. Deliver a recommendation

At the end of the case, the interviewer will ask you to prepare an overall recommendation. It is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a minute to look through your notes before you give your recommendation.

Based on the quantitative and qualitative questions you have answered, what recommendation do they collectively support?

Structure your recommendation in the following way:

After you deliver your recommendation, the interviewer will conclude the case interview. If the case interview was based on a real life project, the interviewer may explain what actually happened in the case.

Don’t worry if your recommendation does not match what actually happened during the project. For case interviews, you are not assessed on your answer, but on your process.

Healthcare Consulting Practice Cases

Below are eight healthcare consulting cases that you can use to practice your case interview skills.

Below, we have step-by-step videos showcasing how we would solve the McKinsey pharmaceutical case and the BCG drug pricing case. The McKinsey case is an interviewer-led case while the BCG case is a candidate-led case. We recommend watching these two videos to give yourself an idea of what both of these types of case interviews look like.

When practicing the rest of these practice cases, make sure you follow the seven steps that we outlined for solving healthcare consulting case interviews.

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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:

Myers Pharma

Our client, Myers Pharma, is one of the largest pharmaceuticals company based out of Europe. They have just finished trials and received the approval for the launch of a vaccine against Rotavirus. This disease typically affects children aged between 2 to 16 years.

Myers plans to launch the vaccine across all its European markets. They have hired us to help them estimate the potential sales of the vaccine in the first year.

Paragraphs highlighted in orange indicate hints for you on how to guide the interviewee through the case.

Paragraphs highlighted in blue can be verbally communicated to the interviewee.

Paragraphs highlighted in green indicate diagrams or tables that can be shared in the “Case exhibits” section.

Suggested case structure

Diagram 1 : Case structure

1. Market Sizing

What would be the number of children across Europe who would be the potential recipients of this vaccine?

Allow the interviewee time to list out the factors that would impact the market size.

Information that can be shared if enquired:

Share Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2 which gives an overview of the age distribution in the two groups of countries.

Share Exhibit 3 if the interviewee asks about the population of the countries in the two groups.

Share Exhibit 4 if the interviewee asks about information on rotavirus disease.

Exhibit 1: Population distribution - Countries with increasing population

pharma case study interview

Exhibit 2:  Population distribution  - Countries with declining population

pharma case study interview

Exhibit 3: Demographic information

pharma case study interview

Exhibit 4: Information about the disease

pharma case study interview

Now the interviewee must try to estimate the market size.

Below would be the steps:

To calculate 'x' and 'y', we need to equate the total of all age brackets to the total population in that group:

After calculating 'x' and 'y', we can now calculate the population for the relevant age brackets in the two groups.

We do not have an age bracket of 2 - 16 years in our population distribution chart. So we need to assume that the population is evenly distributed within 0-9 and 10-19 year age brackets in order to calculate the population between 2-16 years of age.

If required, prompt the interviewee to make the assumption about the even distribution of the population within the 0-9 and 10-19 year age brackets.

Below would be the main points to keep in mind for this calculation:

Key insight

The total potential market for the vaccine in europe would be ~150 m (146.25 m) customers., 2. sales forecast for year 1.

What would be the expected sales of the vaccine in year 1?

Allow the interviewee to list out the factors which would affect the sales like competition, percentage of customers likely to purchase the vaccine, government policies affecting uptake, etc.

Share Exhibit 5 if the interviewee enquires about the average cost of treatment of the disease.

Exhibit 5: Comparison of treatment costs

pharma case study interview

Below would be some of the key inferences from the information shared:

If the candidate asks for information about the percentage of families with children who would buy the medicine, ask him/her to make a guesstimate backed by logic.

For this solution, we have assumed that the probability of the incidence of the disease can be a proxy for the percentage of customers who will buy the vaccine. However, any other assumption, backed by logic would also be correct.

A critical factor to crack this case, would be then take into account the vaccination schedule. The above number assumes that all the three doses are administered; however in the first year only 2 of those doses would have be administered. If the interviewee misses this step, prompt him/ her.

At this point, prompt the candidate to also calculate the sales after the initial launch and once the market stabilizes.

The key point to keep in mind is that once all the children (who are likely to purchase the vaccine) in the initial years have been covered, the new sales would come from children who turn 2, as all the older children would have already been covered under the vaccination program.

The number of children who turn 2 ( assuming the birth rates remain unchanged) can be calculated as follows:

Assuming that the incidence pattern of the disease remains unchanged and therefore only 45% of the parents  are willing to buy the vaccine:

For the above calculation, the fact that only 2 doses are administered per year is irrelevant. This is because each year, the children entering the 2 year age bracket are likely to receive the 2 doses, and the children who have already received 2 doses in the previous year, they will receive the third dose. We have also assumed that no parents will pay for all three doses upfront. 

3. Conclusion

The candidate must now succinctly lay out the conclusion:

Exhibit 1

Account not confirmed

IMS Health Consulting Group Case Interview Questions & Answers

Aveo’s tivozanib entering phase 2 of clinical trial.

Case Type: new product ; private equity and investment . Consulting Firm: IMS Health Consulting Group final round full time job interview. Industry Coverage: healthcare: pharmaceutical, biotech, life sciences .

Case Interview Question #01191: Your client AVEO Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a biotechnology and pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts that specializes on cancer research and cancer treatments. The company spun out of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute… Read the rest

Emergent BioSolutions to Look for Ways to Grow

Case Type: growth ; business competition, competitive response . Consulting Firm: IMS Health Consulting Group first round full time job interview. Industry Coverage: healthcare: pharmaceutical, biotech, life sciences .

Case Interview Question #01172: Your client Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE: EBS) is a multinational specialty biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It develops vaccines and antibody therapeutics for rare diseases, infectious diseases, oncology and autoimmune disorders, and… Read the rest

AstraZeneca to Deal with Purple Pill’s Patent Expiration

Case Type: increase revenues . Consulting Firm: IMS Health Consulting Group first round full time job interview. Industry Coverage: healthcare: pharmaceutical, biotech, life sciences .

Case Interview Question #01109: our client AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN, NYSE: AZN) is a multinational pharmaceutical and biologics company headquartered in Cambridge, England, UK. The company was founded in 1999 through the merger of the Swedish Astra AB and the English… Read the rest

Alexion to Buy Rare Disease Drug Maker Synageva

Case Type: investment ; pricing & valuation . Consulting Firm: IMS Health Consulting Group first round full time job interview. Industry Coverage: healthcare: pharmaceutical, biotech, life sciences .

Case Interview Question #01103: Our client Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) is a medium sized pharmaceutical company with USD $5 Billion in annual revenues and lean operations. Headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, the pharma… Read the rest

New Type 2 Diabetes Drug Approved by FDA

Case Type: investment ; new product . Consulting Firm: IMS Health Consulting Group first round full time job interview. Industry Coverage: healthcare: pharmaceutical, biotech, life sciences .

Case Interview Question #01102: Your client Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX) is a large pharmaceutical company based in the United States. The company primarily focuses on pharma products to treat hemophilia, kidney disease, immune disorders and other… Read the rest


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