Case Summary


A medium-sized biotechnology company focused on discovery and development.


Client seeks to understand the market opportunity for a novel drug for the prevention of Otitis Media (ear infections) in advance of engagement in expensive human studies.


As a medium-size biotechnology company, our client has a small portfolio of products in development and limited cash available for expensive clinical trials. They need to be careful to pursue only products that will yield an attractive return on their investment.

Their core technology involves the use of carbohydrate chemistry in the discovery of new drug treatments. In other words, they develop products based on sugar molecules.

They have recently received very positive results on one of their candidates, a synthetic version of a sugar found in human breast milk. Studies have shown that in animal models this sugar will prevent the occurrence of Otitis Media or ear infections. Its safety profile is exceptionally strong.

Otitis Media occurs primarily in young children. They often wake up in the middle of the night with pain and keep parents up through the night attempting to provide some comfort. The next day parents bring the child to their pediatrician who looks in the ear and sees a red, swollen ear drum. Typically physicians prescribe 5 -10 days of antibiotics, “pink stuff in a bottle,” and after a couple doses these children are running around like they were never sick. At $5 to $10 for a prescription, antibiotics are cheap.

However, many of these children will have a repeat infection within days to weeks of finishing a course of therapy. Many will go through several cycles of therapy in the course of a season. Some patients may eventually require the surgical implantation of tubes to drain the middle ear and some may suffer from hearing loss. So while antibiotics work in the short term, they have some clear drawbacks.

Our client’s product works as a prophylactic therapy or preventative agent. By spraying the sugar into the nasal passages and throat, bacteria are prevented from forming colonies and migrating up the Eustachian tube and into the middle ear. They realize that this approach will involve a completely different treatment paradigm for physicians and would like our help defining the revenue potential of this product.


  1. What are the key issues a project team must address to answer the clients question?
  2. What information would you like to have in order to answer their question?
  3. How would you go about collecting the information you need?