A 2-Day Training Course Delivered By
Kurt Arco

Kurt Arco

  • As an independent consultant, Kurt advises on commercial and launch excellence, drawing from his +20 years of international experience within big and small pharma/biotech companies.
  • Formerly, he was Global Launch Excellence Expert with Trilations, a strategic consultancy.
  • Prior to that, Kurt led several major brand launches at MSD (Merck & Co), internationally and across several therapeutic areas.


  1. A comprehensive overview of the launch process, from discovery/development up to maturity.
  2. The 4 launch types, and how to select the right launch strategy based on your company/brand’s profile.
  3. A structured roadmap with steps to plan your full cross-functional launch process.
  4. The market and customer insights that are crucial for defining the launch strategy and plan.
  5. How to use the patient journey and leverage points to define and prioritise customer segments.
  6. How to organise internally in order to be optimally prepared for launch.
  7. How to define your launch readiness with defined launch milestones.
  8. Best practices drawn from real-world examples of successful and failed launches.

Additional Benefits

  • You will be able to put theory into practice during group work on real-world case studies.
  • You will receive handy take-home templates and models.
  • Cross-check your approach and experiences during cross-functional discussions with industry peers.


Why You Should Attend

In the last decade, pharmaceutical companies have seen rapid changes in the market environment for their new brand launches. While austerity measures in many countries are increasing local and national hurdles for market access, drug launches are becoming more numerous, smaller, and more competitive. It has never been more important for pharmaceutical companies to crack the art of launching new products. YOU ONLY CAN DO IT ONCE! 

The Content: The course content builds on the expertise and experience that Kurt Arco has accumulated over the last 20 years in advising and implementing major product launches in EMEA across major therapy areas: Oncology (incl. Immunotherapy), Immunology, CNS, CVS, Metabolic Disorders, … . It covers all concepts and evidence-based tools for effective strategic decision-making and planning in the process up to launch, with a focus on what will determine the brand’s commercial success.

The Expert: Kurt Arco has 20 years of international launch experience within big and small pharma/biotech companies. When he was with MSD (Merck & Co), from 2005 to 2015, he led several major product launches in many geographical areas and contributed to, and piloted, major marketing & sales excellence projects. After that he was Global Launch Excellence Expert with Trilations up to end 2021, where he consulted globally for numerous big players in the healthcare industry.

The Strategy & Planning for Commercial Launch Success in Pharma course is the only available public training course delivered by Kurt Arco on the topic of Commercial Launch in Pharma.


Agenda of Strategy & Planning for Commercial Launch Success in Pharma

For start and end times, please check Dates & Locations below.

Day 1

Welcome & Audience Expectations (~30 min)

Launch Excellence Fundamentals in Pharma: “From one-size-fits-all to a tailored approach” (~1 h)

  • Launching in a changing landscape: key trends and the importance of customer-centricity for success
  • Product launch complexity: the 4 strategic launch types and their strategic implications
  • The importance of plotting and planning your company’s entire pipeline for your drug’s launch strategy
  • Drivers of commercial launch excellence

The Commercial Launch Process: The Road to Success (~1 h 30 min)

  • A successful launch is more than fast uptake and peak sales!
  • The key success factors for a successful product launch
  • A roadmap and a handy checklist for a successful commercial launch: timings and responsibilities

Plenary discussion: learning from a launch success and a launch failure within the Oncology market.

Lunch Break

The Critical Market Insights to Boost Tomorrow’s Brand Performance (~1 h 15 min)

  • The 3 critical insights to get the positioning of your brand right, to shape its market and to create the competitive advantage:
    • How to capture the critical market insights using the Market Overview template
    • The critical competitor insights
    • The patient journey: a step by step guide

To illustrate the theory, the business case used in the group exercise hereafter will be used to build the set of critical insights required for the exercise.

Group Exercise on a Launch Business Case (~1 h 15 min)

Using a fictitious business case (based on a recently launched Rx pharmaceutical), delegates will work in groups to analyse and discuss the strategic implications of critical insights in a country, where a recently launched competitor failed in terms of market uptake. The objective of the exercise is to address the Country Manager’s strategic concerns and propose recommendations.

This interactive session includes group presentation and sharing key learnings.

Close of Day 1


Day 2

Defining the Core Launch Strategy: Segmentation - Targeting - Positioning (~1 h 45 min)

  • The 8-step approach for effective market segmentation, targeting and positioning
  • Critical success factors in designing and implementing a successful segmentation model
  • Hands-on tips & tricks for each step in the segmentation process

Group Exercise on Segmentation - Targeting - Positioning (~45 min)

Using a business case, participants will need to assess an existing segmentation model, identify areas for improvement, prioritise segments, define an appropriate positioning and design an optimal communication strategy by segment.

Engaging Key Stakeholders for Launch (~1 h)

  • The 4 critical steps: Mapping – Strategy – Execution – Measuring & Feedback
  • Overview of current and emerging stakeholder categories
  • The different strategies to engage with payers
  • How to get KOLs and patient associations on board through brand advocacy development
Lunch Break

Preparing the Cross-Functional Launch Team: Organisational Challenges (~1 h)

  • How to embed structures and processes to ensure unified brand leadership and launch excellence
  • The need for leadership commitment: what resources are needed to guarantee a successful launch?
  • How to prepare the organisation with the Launch Academy and Launch Community

The Critical Launch-Related Activities: Timelines, Milestones and Best Practice Requirements to Support a Successful Launch (~1 h 15 min)

  • The Launch Readiness Board: A comprehensive overview of all activities and responsibilities
  • A detailed discussion of each of the top 10 critical success factors in a launch
    • Who is responsible & timelines
    • Best practices

Group discussion on the cross-functional launch readiness activities, which internal stakeholders are needed, and what the ideal timelines per activity could look like.

Wrap-up (~15 min)


>> Click here if you wish to receive the PDF brochure of this course

Learning Methodology

Interactive lectures, which include real-world launch cases in a variety of therapy areas, alternate with group exercises during which you will be able to work on a hypothetical drug launch that runs throughout the different modules.

The group exercises not only enable you to apply the theory and decision-making tools, but also offer the invaluable opportunity to discuss issues and exchange points of view and experiences with your peers from other functions and companies.

One of the most valuable aspects of attending any CELforPharma course is not only being able to have your specific questions answered by a leading expert, but also having the opportunity to share experiences and have in-depth discussions with your international peers.

infoThe typical audience size of our courses ranges from 6 to 20 (max) participants.

Who Should Attend?

A cross-functional launch team typically consists of executives from Marketing, Sales, Medical, Market Access, External Affairs and Business Intelligence. This course is a must-attend for all members of any cross-functional launch team that needs to launch a brand in the coming 1-3 years. In particular, all executives responsible for building, executing and measuring a launch plan.

As this course is delivered by Kurt Arco, executives from other professional service agencies should request approval prior to registering for this course. Please contact Annelies Swaan, Director Business Operations, for more information (aswaan@celforpharma.com, tel +32 (0)2 709 01 42).


Past Participants

Below is a non-exhaustive list of past participants who have benefited from attending this course.


Job Title



Senior Manager Late Stage Development4SCGermany
Head Corporate MarketingAcino PharmaSwitzerland
Senior Medical Science ManagerActelionSwitzerland
Associate Product ManagerAlexionAustralia
Product Manager TransplantAstellasNetherlands
Head of Sales/Marketing ManagerBayer Healthcare PharmaceuticalsSwitzerland
Project Leader Development Projects| Corp. Project + Portfolio ManagementBiotestGermany
Sr. Launch Readiness ManagerBoehringer IngelheimGermany
LATAM Regional ManagerBracco AltanaSwitzerland
Associate Director, OperationsDiaceuticsUnited Kingdom
Brand ManagerEisaiSwitzerland
Global Strategic Market Intelligence LeadFerringSwitzerland
Senior Director Alliance ManagementGalapagosBelgium
Product Manager Oncology (D-A-CH)IpsenGermany
Learning and Development ManagerJanssenGermany
Supply Chain Manager New Product LaunchJohnson & JohnsonSwitzerland
Global Market Access Lead, Rare DiseasesLEO PharmaDenmark
EMAC NPI Launch Lead Acute Care, Regional Portfolio Management TeamMerck Sharp & DohmeSwitzerland
Sales Manager /PhDr.MundipharmaSlovakia
Brand Director OphthalmologyNovartisGermany
Head, Operations & Executional Excellence, Social MediaNovartisSwitzerland
Product ManagerNovo NordiskHungary
Manager - Business InformationNovo NordiskGermany
Business ManagerOrionFinland
Global Brand ManagerOrionSweden
Brand ManagerOy VermanFinland
Product ManagerPierre FabreGermany
Senior Product ManagerSanofiRussian Federation
Brand ManagerSanofiBelgium
Global Commercial LeadShireUnited States of America
Franchise Head CNSTevaGermany
Launch Solution Lab LeadUCBBelgium
Marketing ManagerVifor PharmaSwitzerland



Dates & Locations

All live online CELforPharma courses are hosted in Zoom.

Our face-to-face courses take place at the Crowne Plaza Brussels Airport (Da Vincilaan 4, 1831 Brussels), a four-star hotel located 5 minutes from Brussels National Airport and 30 minutes by taxi from Brussels South train station (Thalys, TGV, Eurostar).

  • 3-4 October 2023, face-to-face in Brussels

    Day 1: 10:00 - 17:15 CET (Brussels/Amsterdam/Paris)
    Day 2: 08:30 - 16:15 CET (Brussels/Amsterdam/Paris)
  • 12-13 December 2023, live online

    Day 1: 10:00 - 16:30 CET (Brussels/Amsterdam/Paris)
    Day 2: 09:30 - 16:30 CET (Brussels/Amsterdam/Paris)


Hotel Booking Assistance

As part of our strong relationship with the Crowne Plaza Brussels Airport, CELforPharma has secured a discount on the daily room rate for our delegates who book their accommodation via us. Upon your registration, we will assist you to make your hotel booking. For any assistance in this matter please do not hesitate to contact Kealeigh Steel, Senior Programme Coordinator (kealeigh.steel@celforpharma.com, tel +32 (0)2 709 01 45).

Included in the Registration Fee - for the live online course​

  • Access to a small-class (max 20 participants), expert led course in real-time, using an interactive platform for break-out rooms, whiteboard exercises, polling, plenary discussions and chats.
  • Course material, which will be provided to you in both digital format (by email) and in hard copy (by post, so you can make notes during the course).
  • Certificate of attendance signed by the expert and CELforPharma.


Included in the Registration Fee - for the face-to-face course

  • Participation in a small-class (max 20 participants), expert led face-to-face course with interactive group exercises and plenary discussions. You will have the opportunity to meet the expert(s) and discuss your own projects/issues during the breaks.
  • Course material, which will be provided to you in both digital format (by email) and in hard copy (so you can make notes during the course).
  • Coffee, tea & refreshments during the course.
  • Informal networking lunch.
  • Group dinner in the evening of Day 1.
  • Certificate of attendance signed by the expert and CELforPharma.


Group Discounts

Team discounts can be offered to 3 or more delegates from the same company.
Contact Annelies Swaan, Director Business Operations, (aswaan@celforpharma.com) for more details.


How to Register

  1. Click the "Register Here" button on this page.
  2. Choose a course date, then fill out your personal details and company / invoicing details.
  3. Choose to pay via bank transfer or by credit card (through a secure payment link, which you will receive together with the invoice).
  4. Click "Confirm Registration". You will be sent an automatic email confirming your registration followed by a personal email containing an invoice and further payment instructions.

For assistance in registering, raising a PO or invoicing, please do not hesitate to contact Kealeigh Steel.
(email: kealeigh.steel@celforpharma.com or call: +32 2 709 01 45)


Transfer & Cancellation Policy

Flexible Transfer

  • If a registrant cannot attend the scheduled course, he/she can avoid any cancellation charge by sending a suitable replacement participant.
  • Alternatively, the registrant can transfer once on a “space available” basis at no extra cost, until 3 weeks prior to the event, to another course of the same value held within one year of the original course date.

Registration Cancellation

  • Less than 14 days prior to the course date: registrant liable to pay the full invoiced registration fee.
  • Between 15 and 30 days prior to the course date: registrant liable to pay 50% of the invoiced registration fee.
  • More than 30 days prior to the course date: registrant liable to pay a cancellation fee of € 450 per registrant.
  • If a registrant postpones his/her participation to a future course, and cancels again, no refund can be claimed for registration fees.

Related Courses