The Development of Nopane

Published 01 Dec 1997
Reference 4661
Topic Operations
Region Europe
Length 17 page(s)
Language English
Prizes & Awards

1997 European Case Writing Award (EFMD)


The case describes the development of a new analgesic (painkiller) drug for the German subsidiary of a large Swiss pharmaceutical company. Development was successfully completed by a dedicated unit, and the drug gained a large market share quickly after launch. However, irresponsible use of the drug caused severe side-effects in a few patients, leading to a crisis which ultimately led the German health authority to restrict the drug to a small niche indication. The restriction eliminated most of the commercial potential of the drug. Many factors contributed to this product failure; the question is whether there were systematic management errors.

Teaching objectives

Many different factors and parties, internal and external, played a role in the failure of Nopane. The organization could not agree on fundamental reasons for the failure, nor on culprits. Several management themes emerge that contributed to the failure, each of which may be explored separately in depth, or all together may be explored more superficially. The themes are: Project organization: setting up a dedicated unit for a project, impacts on organizational interfaces and incentives Cross-functional cooperation: the ability of different functions to communicate and work together, internal and external International projects: the challenge of carrying out an international project simultaneously in Germany, the US and China

  • AR1997
  • Project Management
  • New Product Development
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Organizational Structure
  • International Development
  • Cross-functional Teams