Pharmaceutical companies have been increasingly focused on their market access strategies, with market access becoming the key concern amid tightening healthcare budgets. Market access primarily denotes the process by which a pharmaceutical company makes its product available to the patient population.
In today’s fast changing environment, market access is not limited to new product introductions. The term has become much broader and now encompasses an evaluation of the implications that the newly introduced drug would have on the larger healthcare market as well as the impact that the changing healthcare market could have on the new drug. Moreover, the function also incorporates responsibilities such as carving out a strategic roadmap for creating a positive healthcare environment for the influencers in each market and communicating the perceived value of new products to a large number of stakeholders to influence uptake.
Traditionally, a company could make its product available to the eligible population of patients as well as get it reimbursed, following the completion of the drug registration process within a particular country. Today, registration does not ensure successful market access. Companies need to prove the cost-effectiveness of their drugs in order to receive coverage in a healthcare system. This is where the payers come into the picture.
The pharmaceutical industry is witnessing a shift in the relative importance of stakeholders who have the power to drive the success or failure of new drugs. The traditional influencers, including physicians and key opinion leaders, have lost their previously significant power to the growing momentum of newer influencers such as payers, standardization bodies, governments and patients.
The key for successful product introduction now lies in identifying the right set of stakeholders that holds the power to drive a product launch and using data in a well-presented and well-timed way to convince them to get on board.
Pharmaceutical companies have started to recognize the relevance of market access management, and they are rethinking and reworking their market approaches and market access strategies accordingly.
To gain a competitive advantage, some pharma companies are deploying specialist market access field teams to engage directly with payers, while others are adopting an approach wherein sales and market access teams work together. The strategy may vary from company to company; however, at every step, it becomes important to verify that the resources deployed in the field force result in significant interactions with desirable stakeholders.
For pharmaceutical companies to maintain profitability and market share, they will need to understand and act upon these changing dynamics. They should try to manage stakeholder groups by considering their respective level of influence in the value chain within each geography. This will require significant effort and time; therefore, it is advisable to start these studies alongside clinical trials by including end points of interest within the initial design.