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Thinking of a move into Market Access?

Whilst many consider Market Access as a relatively new component of the commercial Pharmaceutical world, it has always been present within the Pharma market in some format. However, whilst the complexities that exist within the field are always evolving, there are four areas that have been consistent;

  1. Understanding and communicating the health benefits and financial implications your product may have on each healthcare economy across the UK
  2. Scoping and being at the forefront of change within healthcare market and being prepared for the impact this will likely have on your product
  3. Ensuring all non-prescribing (as well as prescribing) stakeholders are involved and ready / supportive of your product within each local healthcare environment
  4. Clearly communicating the value (the benefits within the context of costs) of your product to the range of customers who influence its performance

This is very different from selling the features and benefits of a product and requires a more strategic way of working and communicating, as well as patience and gravitas, as customers will be senior decision makers all with strong and challenging agendas. Not only do you need to be able to gain access to them, you’ll need to find a way to show them what you have will actually help their agenda and not just cost them money.

Another way of looking at this is that Market Access is about packaging data in the right way, for the right customer, at the right time. As the NHS is constantly changing, albeit at a relatively slow pace, the challenge for anyone working in Market Access is to keep one step ahead of the overall stakeholder group. This means you need to understand the different agendas and needs of all those involved in local decision making, positioning, funding and ultimately adoption of your product.

Market Access Customers

Market Access customer are often referred to as ‘Payors’, who in turn might be described as national or local decision-makers, policy makers and budget-holders.

A more complete list of the different types of Market Access customers you’re likely to work with would include; Commissioners, Prescribing Advisors, Head of Medicines Management, Director of Public Health, NICE Implementation Leads, Chief Pharmacists, Hospital Business Managers and Service Managers.

On top pf this there will also likely be more disease-specific market access customers. For example, in Oncology, these may include Cancer Network Directors, Cancer Network Pharmacists or Tumour Site Specific Leads.

Whilst this group are not able to prescribe a product, the decisions they make play a significant role in the ability of the prescribers to use your product versus competitors through the development and enforcement of local guidelines.

What this really means is there is no point in trying to persuade a clinician to prescribe your product if you are not able to persuade the people who hold the purse strings that it should be made available.

Different Models and Challenges in Market Access

Whilst almost all companies will have some form of Market Access presence in the field, there are a multitude of different models that are implemented depending on company strategy, disease area focus and life stage of the brand. These factors are overlaid with the various Market Access challenges anticipated by the company which may include;

  • Trying to secure funding for a drug that has a negative NICE position
  • Trying to secure funding for a drug that is awaiting review by NICE
  • Ensuring the effective local implementation of NICE guidance
  • Ensuring the NHS has sufficient service and/or financial plans in place to support the managed entry of new drugs into the NHS
  • Lack of clinical demand impacting on the level of funding secured

Regardless of the challenge, the ultimate goal is to ensure whatever model is used delivers a tangible return within the desired time frame. For example for new drugs that are expected to bring in significant revenue (that will ultimately impact the local budgets), this will likely mean a dedicated Market Access team is put in place to solely focus on non-prescribers with a view to securing approval for their drug.

For drugs which are more established or will have a lower impact on the local budget, then a hybrid Market Access/ Key Account Manager role might be utilised where employees are required to make sure their product is favourably positioned and then deliver sales through their work with prescribing customers.

Getting into a Market Access role

For someone who is looking to move into this type of job within Pharma, the opportunities you should apply for should be largely influenced by your existing experience.

If you’ve not worked in this field before but have a strong Pharma sales background, then you could start to look at the more hybrid-type Market Access/ Key Account Management roles that will allow you to leverage your sales experience to open doors and also develop your Market Access acumen.

Market Access interactions with Payors will be based on financial propositions i.e.: cost saving & Budget Impact modelling so an aptitude for figures and numerical analysis is very much required. Individuals from a business background are always valued.

If however you’re already in this space then of course you should look to secure a more dedicated Market Access position.

Either way you’re going to need to show a strong understanding of the subject area, who the stakeholders in your local economy are and what the impact your new drug is likely to have economically as well as socially (i.e. the benefits of the drug to the patients and prescribers).

You’ll be able to get most of this information through desk research and speaking to existing customers. Like most things your research success will be dependent on the quality of the questions you ask – which is also a key skill required to be successful in a Market Access role!

If you’re interested in moving into a role that has more of a focus on Market Access and have the right background then talk to CHASE. We would love to hear from you.

Andreas Knight Senior Recruitment Consultant