How to create a positive market access environment

Funmi Oluwa, Market Access Director UK/Ireland, LEO Pharma, on how creating a positive market access environment enables successful product launches.

Read this article in our Pf Magazine Market Access Special Edition here. 

How would you define market access?

Market access involves preparing the appropriate healthcare environment so that patients have rapid and continued access to medicines at the right time. At LEO, a global organisation focused on improving the lives of people that live with dermatological conditions, market access spans the entire product journey starting in pre-launch; providing Advance Product Notification and generating evidence for Health Technology Assessments, through to securing price and reimbursement approvals at launch and post launch where we look for joint working opportunities, work on pathways and real-world evidence generation.

Why is market access so critical in a product launch?

With the increase in payer pressure coupled with the challenging financial environment, for a launch to be commercially successful you need a positive access environment. The market access journey starts many years before product launch.  Our aim is to ensure we get patients timely access to the medicines they need. The decision-making landscape in the healthcare system has become quite complex with regional and local decision makers playing an increasing role in developing treatment pathways to support local adoption of new treatment options. Therefore, ensuring that your strategy can
be translated by the local NHS is critical to the success of any product launch.

What elements are key to a good market access strategy?

A strong market access strategy starts early in the drug development lifecycle, with a thorough needs analysis of your marketplace; who the key stakeholders and influencers are, their needs and how they work in your disease area.  These insights can be built into clinical trial design and provide data that both the payers and regulators need to make decisions. The strategy needs to be built into the launch plans of all new products and needs to be done early.

What are the main barriers to market entry?

One of the biggest challenges from an access perspective is gaining timely access and uptake of new innovative medicines. Market access has become increasingly complex, involving sequential discussions with multiple stakeholders. Timelines and complexity of duplicative regional and local decision-making increases for non-NICE medicines. The NHS is changing and our approach to providing care must change with it. The ambition in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy is to get to the upper quartile of comparator countries in medicines (for medicines which have been positively reviewed by NICE). This needs to be addressed if the UK is to ensure people get early access to new medicines, and to make the UK a more attractive place for industry investment.  In addition for LEO, dermatology not being a national priority and outside the Quality and Outcomes Framework incentive system can make it difficult to gain interest  in Joint Working initiatives at local level.   

How do you ensure that all stakeholders are involved from the start?

We develop a detailed market access plan where we identify and segment all market access stakeholders from pre-launch to launch and beyond. For each step in the patient access map, key stakeholders and their influencers are identified and their interactions mapped. We validate these by seeking stakeholders’ advice on our plans/messages. We then tailor our proposition and messages in line with their needs at the various time points and agree an action plan on how we will communicate the messages.

How do you successfully navigate the changing healthcare market?

By collaborating with relevant stakeholders and utilising key customer insights effectively. A recent example of collaborating with stakeholders was LEO’s involvement with the former ABPI Dermatology Initiative (ABPI DI) who produced a report to examine the urgent issues in the care of people with long term skin conditions. The report highlights how dermatology is ideally placed to benefit from a ‘FYFV approach’. It outlines practical solutions that could positively impact patient experience and reduce burden on the NHS by enabling people to have greater control of their own care, allowing greater local flexibility and the integration of new models of care.

Funmi’s top 5 tips for understanding your environment & your customers.

  1. Establish valued relationships with a network of stakeholders where you are seen as a partner.
  2. Don’t spend all your time behind the desk – go out and meet people to understand their challenges and needs.
  3. Be part of industry groups where policy updates and wider environmental changes are discussed, and be part of shaping industry’s response to the changes.
  4. Keep up to date with latest trends, environmental changes and policies.
  5. Don’t be siloed: Seek insights from other areas of the business such as sales regarding what their customers tell them about the changing policy environment, and with marketing and medical teams to understand different perspectives.