Market Access: What’s the plan? asks Samir Paul

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Over time market access has become increasingly important to the pharma industry. 

Words By Samir Paul


With different roles interpreting market access in different ways, the need to define what it means and develop a robust plan of attack, alongside the need to evaluate the success of the market access plan, means it is now as critical as ever to plan effectively for future success. Inicio Consulting’s Samir Paul shares his expert insight.


The meaning

The phrase market access can be interpreted in many different ways, and has in times gone by been a bit of a mystery to some, if not many.

In a complex NHS and healthcare environment, with clinical and non-clinical stakeholders under increasing pressure to deliver value healthcare solutions to patients, it is time for industry to better understand and align with our customers in order  to deliver high quality care through high quality products and services.

In our view, market access is about delivering a package of care to patients, with demonstrable clinical value and cost benefit with an integrated and clear value proposition.


Think local

Market access is no longer about delivering the single same message to every payer-type customer on a target list. Localised strategies are key to ensuring that your market access plan can be implemented successfully. The tailoring of value propositions with appropriate messaging and channel use is critical to ensure that as an industry, we are closely aligned to both local and national healthcare agendas, while meeting the needs of customers working in differing healthcare environments.



In terms of developing and implementing market access strategies, as an industry we have often worked in silos – marketing develops the brand strategy; market access develop their strategy; medical will likely have their own objectives and so on.

What is critical, however, is not thinking of market access as a separate deliverable. Successful market access strategies require all functions of an organisation to work closely together, bringing their own experience and expertise to the table in order to develop one robust, clear and integrated plan. We all talk about our passion to deliver innovative and ground-breaking medicines to patients, and if this is the case, I genuinely believe that if our industry worked in a more integrated cross-functional manner, we would deliver more value.


Who are your customers?

Who are market access customers? Broadly speaking, anyone involved in the decision-making process. We have tended to place customers into segments, namely those who are ‘market access’, and those who are not. Historically, we have worked with the notion that key opinion leaders or external experts; Commissioners, Formulary Pharmacists, Medicines Management, Public Health and so on, are the ‘market access’ segment and those that fall outside are not. I would argue that although these customer groups could be imperative to brand adoption, it is critical to think in a more integrated way; in that there are other clinical and non-clinical stakeholders who have a part to play in the decision-making process. Let’s not only think of those who govern policy and funding as our only market access customers; it is essentially anyone who can play a role in driving the success of your brand and delivering positive outcomes for patients.


Evaluating the impact

In terms of how we evaluate the success of what we do, we subconsciously look to sales performance, what our customer-facing personnel are delivering in terms of quantity and quality, and we are always trying to understand if the ‘message’ has been delivered.

I have to challenge thinking as to whether this is enough? Do we really have a clear grasp as to whether the NHS understands our proposition, do our customers believe it and, subsequently, will they act upon it? We measure a lot of the ‘what’ without necessarily understanding ‘why’ stakeholders believe what they do and how our stakeholders behave.

Should we dig deeper into insights that genuinely inform us about whether our ‘package’ of care is delivering value to our patients and the NHS? Samir Paul is Founder and Director of Inicio Consulting.  



1. Market access is about delivering a package of care to patients

2. Demonstrating clinical value and cost benefit are critical

3. Think local, while aligning to national strategies where relevant

4. Cross-functional working ensures delivery of value

5. Consider segmenting and targeting customers/stakeholders based more broadly on who participates in the decision-making process

6. When evaluating the success of market access strategies, think more closely about the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’.


Inicio provides a range of Insights, Analytics & Performance services to help pharmaceutical companies evaluate the impact of their market access strategies. For further details, please contact, call 07595 821220 or go to