Gaining access: For products to commercially succeed it’s about what and who you know

Words by Andreas Knight


Many consider market access as a new component of commercial pharma, but in reality it has always been around in one format or another. The complexities that exist in this vibrant field are constantly evolving, however there are four areas that have remained consistent.

1. Understanding the health benefits and financial implications your product may have on each UK healthcare economy

2. Being at the forefront of change within the market and being prepared for the impact this has on your product

3. Ensuring all non-prescribing – as well as prescribing – stakeholders are involved with your product in each local healthcare environment

4. Communicating the value of your product to the range of customers who influence its performance.

This is very different from selling the benefits of a product and requires a more strategic way of working, not to mention patience and gravitas, as customers will be senior decision makers all with 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 how you can help their agenda and not just cost them money.

Market access is also about packaging data in the right way, for the right customer, at the right time. As the NHS is constantly changing, albeit at a slow pace, the challenge is to keep one step ahead of the overall stakeholder group. This means, when it comes to adopting your product, you need to understand the different agendas of all those involved in local decision making and funding.

Interested parties

Market access customers are often referred to as ‘payors’, and could be described as national or local decision-makers, policy makers or budget-holders.

Other market access customers you’re likely to work with include: Commissioners, Prescribing Advisors, NICE Implementation Leads, Chief Pharmacists and Hospital Business Managers.

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 these groups are not able to prescribe a product, the decisions they make play a significant role in the ability of prescribers to use them. Essentially, this means there is no point in trying to persuade a clinician to prescribe your product, if you aren’t able to convince the people who hold the purse strings.

Getting into market access

If you’re looking for this type of job within pharma, opportunities should be influenced by existing experience.

If you’ve not worked in this field before, but have a strong sales background, you could start to look at a hybrid-type market access/key account management role which will allow you to leverage your sales experience to open doors.

If you’re already in the market access space, then of course you could look to secure a more dedicated position.

Either way, if you have the right background then we would love to hear from you.

Andreas Knight is a Senior Recruitment Consultant at Chase. Go to